Is Conan O’Brien Stealing Jokes From Twitter?

Flickr / Roberta Romero
Flickr / Roberta Romero

Robert “Alex” Kaseberg is a freelance writer who is accusing Conan O’Brien and his comedy show — cleverly entitled Conan — of stealing jokes from his Twitter account.

As the story goes, Kaseberg posted the following joke on his Twitter account and personal Blogspot site (I didn’t realize Blogspot was still around).

“A Delta flight from Cleveland to New York took off with only two passengers. And they wrestled for control of the armrest the entire flight.”

Kaseberg claims that the exact same joke appeared on Conan’s show the next night, but that he initially brushed it off as a coincidence.

My immediate reaction was they stole my joke. But then I remembered that, although the odds are slight of somebody also picking an armrest struggle for a joke, I decided maybe it was a coincidence. Conan and his staff did not seem to me to be the type to steal jokes.

But then, according to Kaseberg, it happened again:

[On] Feb. 3rd I wrote and posted this joke on my blog at 9:02 am and on Twitter;

“Tom Brady has decided to give his Super Bowl MVP truck to the man who won the game for the Patriots. So enjoy that truck Pete Carroll.”

Again, like my armrest joke, the very same joke appeared the next day, Feb. 4th, on Conan’s monologue almost exactly word for word. Conan said; “So they gave the truck to Pete Carroll.”

After a third incidence of “joke stealing,” Kaseberg had had enough. He decided to contact Conan’s head writer, Mike Sweeney.

For what seemed like 15 agonizing minutes, Mike Sweeney, the head writer of “Conan,” angrily and loudly denied those were my jokes. He was furious that I was accusing them of stealing jokes, but most of all he was incensed that I would suggest his writers would have anything to do with my pathetic blog and it’s author, me, a no-name failure.

This whole situation is kinda weird. As many people have pointed out, Kaseberg’s jokes were all about topical events and contained material that could be easily thought of by others. Kaseberg also comes off as a conspiracy theorist, who is easy set-off and upset.

But, I am also struck with how bizarre The Conan Show’s response to the allegation has been. If his account is true (which it might not be), why was Mike Sweeney act so pissed off during their phone call? If I am Sweeney, and the allegation is false, I sweetly tell the person that we didn’t steal their content, offer a complimentary tote bag, and hang up as soon as possible. I don’t rant and scream into the phone like a crazy person.

Conan assistant Andy Richter has also made a weirdly defensive tweet about the whole ordeal:

I guess I just don’t find it very likely that Conan stole some jokes off an obscure blogspot website, but I also think that if the allegations are false, they really need some new PR people to help guide them through shit like this.

True or not, Kaseberg is going through with a lawsuit. He is suing Conan O’Brien and the show in California court for violating his copyright on the jokes. I guess we’ll see how this turns out? TC mark

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