Dastardly Italian joke thief nabbed by long arm of the LOL

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Comedian Emo Phillips shares word of international outrage over allegations of systematic, decades-long joke thievery by Italian comedian Daniele Luttazzi, shown above making a frowny face. Mr. Philips says,

Today, the biggest Italian news daily had—on the front page—an incredible scandal about how the top comedian in italy has ripped off American comedians including, but not limited to: George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Wright, Mitch Hedberg, Sarah Silverman, Bill Maher, and myself. He did so for years, flatly denied it, and until now, completely got away with it.
Philips points us to the news, in Italian. And alternately, in English-ish. Here is a list of comedians who have been ripped off, and details on the jokes stolen. Chortle, the UK comedy publication, has a story on the Luttazzi scandal here (in easy-to-read English).

John Hodgman alerted Boing Boing to the story, and to Mr. Philips' own personal involvement as a victim of said joke-theft. Hodgman says,

Jokes are plagiarized all the time (Patton Oswalt is constantly being ripped off, most recently by the valedictorian speaker at Columbia University's School of General Studies), but comedians often have no recourse when their work is stolen. If anything, there is a lingering sense that jokes belong to no one.

While it's true that they originally were passed around as a part of a public domain folk culture—like urban legends and ghost stories—they are now clearly examples of carefully crafted artistic expression. Few who practice comedy would debate this. But you'd be surprised at how many people defend joke thieves on the grounds that the original creator of the joke should be glad for the publicity.

And now, I, non-comedian and joke layperson, will attempt to create topical humor about the story:

Q: If Interpol are the guys who handle high-stakes international financial crimes, who do you call when stuff like this happens?

A: Inter-LOL

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  1. Nonsense! I did a little homework on this guy and it turns out that all his jokes are delivered in some wacky non-Englishy language. Quite inventive, really… especially the “Le sette parole non si può mai dire in televisione” bit.

  2. Inter-LOL

    I think you’re safe from international joke thievery, for what it’s worth.

  3. I don’t mean to be argumentative but it always confuses me when BB posts stuff like this. BB seems to defend piracy and folks on here have often said the same thing, that artists of various kinds should be glad to have their work pirated because it gets them more publicity and that means more revenue. Another common argument is that works of art (music,videos,games) are not ‘stolen’ because you’re merely making a copy and the original owner can still use the their material. How does that not apply to jokes?

    Sometimes it seems these rules about what is and isn’t theft change according to who is producing the material and how much you like them. It strikes me as hypocritical. Why should we sympathize with comedians who’s jokes are stolen but not video game makers or bands? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we should be sue happy and go around prosecuting kids for downloading Disney songs or anything that drastic but you can’t have one set of rules and regulations for one group of people and a new set for the other. Either it’s theft or it’s not, period.

    1. “Either it’s theft or it’s not, period.”

      imho, there’s a huge difference between possibly infringing on copyright, making copies for personal use, and appropriating someone else’s creative work and presenting it as your own. That seems a key and distinctive difference, to me.

      It’s the diff between downloading someone’s latest ebook [maybe illegally] and enjoying it – and otoh downloading it, taking out the credits, slapping my name on it and then saying “Hey everybody! Look at what I did! Aren’t I smart/clever/swell!”

      Also a good one you hear from weak-minded joke thief apologists is “Yeah, Carlos Mencia/Dennis Leary might have stolen bits from everyone/Bill Hicks, but they told it *funnier.*” I hate those people.

    2. “But you’d be surprised at how many people defend joke thieves on the grounds that the original creator of the joke should be glad for the publicity.” says Hodgeman, quoted in the original post.

      Does sound a bit like an anti-RIAA argument.

    3. When a comedian steals a joke they are presenting it as one of their own and they leave the audience believing this to be true. When you pirate songs, games, etc. the creator of that song or game is never going to be removed. So, although revenue-wise they may take a hit, they still receive credit for the song/game in an artistic sense.

      If I am a lesser known comedian and I write a killer joke and suddenly a well known comedian steals the joke, the public will believe that the well known comedian created it. So the next time I, the lesser know comedian, say the joke it will now be as if I am stealing the joke when in fact I am the true creator.

      That is why comedians are protective of their material.

  4. Man, Oswalt is gonna be so pissed. Also, I’ve always liked Emo Phillips, if for no other reason than that he used to date Judy Tenuta. Yeah… imagine the two of ’em doing it.

    1. As much as i love Emo and Judy, i would rather NOT picture them going at it. But of course, now my brain keeps going there: thanks.

  5. *Ahem* Larry “The Cable Guy” *Ahem* (-Although his delivery actually takes all the funny out of the jokes he steals. How does this guy have a career? Oh yeah, the same people he appeals to voted for Sarah Palin.)

  6. Case closed! Now who do I call about this “Movie night of super-great mystery with robots & mocking” that I saw in Latveria last year? Doctor Doom has a LOT to answer for…

  7. BlessedBlogger: I see your comment has been disappeared. To answer you anyway, this is a Xeni post, not a Cory or Mark post. They often have wildly divergent viewpoints on this sort of thing. See: the hubub and ruction a month or so ago over the iPad.

  8. http://www.boingboing.net/2010/05/26/why-the-absence-of-c.html

    In this video, lack of copyright is shown to be key for innovation in a number of fields, primarily fashion, though comedy is mentioned. I, too, see a disparity between the critique of this situation, and the support of reappropriation in the video.

    Perhaps attribution is the missing element, but fashion does not have attribution. Perhaps by translating you can make an idea seem novel in a new market, whereas with fashion which transcends language you cannot “translate” without people seeing it as the same. Perhaps the system of copying is distinct.

    I do disagree on a few points, however. The difference between this issue and file sharing is Luttazzi is a producer of content, and the Disney fans are consumers. As the internet and digital media has progressed, these lines have blurred (Is a mashup artist a producer or consumer? Both? Neither?) but the distinction exists. Is Luttazzi a mashup artist or a plagiarist or merely a cultural and linguistic translator? Should he have asked for permission? Should he have said, “OH, btw, that was from a friend of mine.”

    People tell jokes of other people’s all the time. How many original jokes have you said? They rarely are 100% original. What if Microjokes owned “So, a Jesuit priest, a rabbi and a man in a chicken suit walk in to a bar” but someone told the joke with a Gorilla suit? How different does it have to be to constitute an original joke? There simply is no solid line because each person will say something different. There is no legally defined line because there simply is no (nor can their be) copyright on jokes.

  9. Did he steal from Bill Hicks or Dennis Leary stealing from Bill Hicks?

    Also, don’t forget Carlos Mencia.

  10. Q: If Interpol are the guys who handle high-stakes international financial crimes, who do you call when stuff like this happens?
    A: Inter-LOL

    That’s GOLD, Xeni! GOLD!

  11. Someone should do mashup standup… a setup by George Carlin followed by a punch line by Emo Phillips.

  12. I can only imagine the horrid, humorless world in which jokes were protected intellectual property.

    Thankfully humor is still free, so I don’t need to hang myself from a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle.

    1. You copyright/copyfight trolls are missing the point.

      The post isn’t about whether or not jokes are “protected intellectual property” so much as whether one comic taking another’s material wholesale and without credit is a Total Dick Move.

      Presenting another creator’s work as your own is inarguably a Total Dick Move.

      Whether it’s legally actionable, or should be, or should not be, is not something I’m getting into here.

      1. But if joke thieves don’t mind being Total Dicks, then what? Guilting them into attribution wont work.

        1. I don’t think any of the comedians he stole from are asking for attribution. Their reward is in the hecklers who can now sit in the audience and shout, “Heard it!”

      2. Well, the comment was a joke… but since you seem to have taken it seriously I guess I wouldn’t cut it as a comedian.

    2. Jokes? Why stop at jokes? Here’s how it’s going to go.

      Let’s say this becomes a SRS BSNS matter in Italy, and from there in the EU. They take some bribes, pass some laws. Comics can’t steal each other’s jokes anymore. As a result, the stand up comedy industry up and dies overnight except for a few current people whom everyone can agree aren’t funny at all. Fine by me. Good damn riddance.

      But the thing about the legal system is, precedent is precedent. If you can legally accuse someone of stealing your punchlines, how is plot any different? There goes that novel you were hoping to write, unless you can license the Hero’s Journey from George Lucas. Or how about writing style, or debating arguments? In a flash, legal firms fall over each other trying to be the first in the door to claim various bits of legalese. The winner, by the way, is the one who gets the appeal first.

      The net result is a society of haves and have nots. Us common folk, well, sure, we can tell jokes and write things for strictly private uses, no one’s going to be unreasonable about it. We just won’t be able to publish anything we create, or “perform” it for audiences larger than a few dozen people. We’re the unwashed masses, the new scum, who can by law only consume because any act of creativity will inevitably resemble something out of everything that came before. But there’s still hope. Once in a while someone will have a truly unique thought (or more likely, the thought’s real owner won’t discover it until it passes muster), and the ranks of the haves will swell by one. The name of those haves?

      The Aristocrats.

      1. this was brilliantly played…made me spit coffee as I Bwaahahahaha’d…

        I tip my hat to you sir.

      2. Oh man. . .you had me considering reparations for the estate of Joseph Campbell.

        Best. Comment. Ever.

  13. I believe the same for comedy as for music – copying, reproducing, etc can and should occur as much as possible – just not under the guise as your own work.
    Hear a song you love? play it over and over for as many people as possible – just give credit where credit is due, and don’t say that you wrote it.
    Hear a funny joke? repeat it, make people laugh. Just don’t take credit for writing it.

    Once you create something, a joke or a song, it’s out in the world. You can’t expect it not to spread (why would you want to?)
    You can however expect that other people don’t put their name on it.

    this and only this is what copyright should protect.

  14. Hey guys, I just thought of something funny – if Interpol are the guys who handle high-stakes international financial crimes, who do you call when stuff like this happens?

    Inter-LOL! Ha ha!

  15. and i thought he was a stand-up guy…*groans*

    yeah, but is he funny? you can steal a joke, but without the proper delivery it isn’t funny. even good material is useless in the wrong hands.

  16. Apparently he made a joke about Berlusconi in 2004 and ever since Berlusconi’s newspapers are trying to make him out to be a plagiarist. He obviously plagiarized but its also a dirty political game thats being played with freedom of speech in Italy.

  17. Folks don’t understand the comedy business, I guess. A comedian works hard to build up an act, writing jokes, practicing them and organizing them. Then he goes on the road performing his act act comedy clubs for a season. He counts on the fact that the new town he is performing in hasn’t heard those jokes. If a joke stealer sits in on someone’s act early on and cops it and performs it on television, the originator of the jokes could look like a rerun for the rest of his tour. Comedy is serious business.

    1. If all a comedian has to go on is his material, then I’d say they suck. I’ll LMAO over and over for the good presentation of an old joke.

  18. The best way for comedians to get the plagiarist back is to stand in the back of the audience when they’re performing and yell out their punch lines a couple of seconds before they get a chance to say them. It’s been done!

  19. “Another common argument is that works of art (music,videos,games) are not ‘stolen’ because you’re merely making a copy and the original owner can still use the their material. How does that not apply to jokes?”

    A ‘concept’ I came up with a month or two back: since we have tribute bands, why not tribute stand-up? With complete ack. to the original of course — in my example, Ted Chippington, funniest man evah.

  20. Hodgman says…

    If anything, there is a lingering sense that jokes belong to no one.

    I think the “lingering” sense is that jokes belong to everyone, not no one.

    Do you ever hear people say, “Stop me if this one’s copyrighted”, do you?

  21. So… You’re saying that you can’t take a joke?(*)

    (*) All rights reserved. Reuse of this joke for commercial or amusement purposes is strictly prohibited without express written consent of the comedian. Broadcast, transmission, or reading aloud of this joke is prohibited. Remembering this joke at a later time and chuckling over it is also prohibited. Please note that ‘this joke’ refers not only to the original joke but also to the attached disclaimer, and derived jokes about disclaimers attached to jokes. And, holy shit, since attaching a disclaimer to a joke, or otherwise claiming ownership of a joke, is itself a joke, this may apply to the whole notion of owning jokes!

    Damn! I’m gonna be rich!

  22. The sad part is that Mr. Luttazzi back in 2001 declared on Italian newspaper La Repubblica, “All the jokes of Satyricon [a show of his] are original. (if you claim the opposite, you have to give me specific examples, otherwise you have to apologize to me)”
    After he got caught, he changed his version with a sort of, “I’ve always said that I’m hosting a ‘treasure hunt” in my monologues; I put quotes and winks for the more expert fans.” Hmmmm…
    Also, he raised a stinker when another TV host, Paolo Bonolis, quotes a joke of Luttazzi (in theory) in 2003, regarding a fly. It turned out that joke was George Carlin’s, from 1982, about a moth.
    To this day, Luttazzi is trying to say that his variation of the joke (replacing a moth with a fly) is a substantial improvement and then he made a joke better and practically original. Hmmmmm… [NOTE: he might have bettered the joke in Italian, not the joke in itself]
    Now, he claims that a particular joke he stole from Emo, merely by delivering it in a different way, it’s to be considered a different joke altogether. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…
    Mr. Luttazzi is making money with other people’s work, neglecting to mention them – not only: he treats his accusers as idiots and denies any allegation, bringing absurd explanations that won’t hold water.
    It’s not much the stealing process (which is vile and sad, but… No, it’s vile and sad); it’s his defense, which is even worse and pathetic.

  23. If you craft a joke and begin telling it on “the road” and a more famous comic begins telling the joke in different regions or on TV, you look like the joke thief to the uneducated audiences you entertain after the joke thief.

    There is a distinct line between joke thief parallel thinking that is very easy to distinguish. If you tell a long joke about your baby boy and someone else is telling the same joke word-for-word with the subject of the joke being a baby girl instead of a baby boy, one of you is stealing from the other.

    A previous poster mentioned Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast where he interviewed Carlos Mencia. In the first 10 minutes of the first episode on Mencia, he plays two very, very specific jokes that he lifted from other comics.

    I am usually very flexible with the way I analyze the difference between infringement and theft, but Mencia is a joke thief and not a sampler, not a remixer, and not a tribute comic.

    I know nothing about Daniele Luttazzi, but if he got on Berlusconi bad side and was exposed for revenge purposes, he STILL needs to make it up to the comics he robbed.

    I don’t think Emo Phillips is supporting Luttazzi in this situation, but if he is, I welcome his defending arguments.

  24. And lets’s not forget one of the biggest joke-thiefs of all time-Carlos Mencia. It’s hard to listen to even three minutes of “his” material without being able to link every joke he makes to someone else. The fact that his delivery is painful to watch doesn’t help either.

  25. BB should have a contest where readers videotape themselves telling The Aristocrats.

  26. “Mr. Luttazzi is making money with other people’s work, neglecting to mention them – not only: he treats his accusers as idiots and denies any allegation, bringing absurd explanations that won’t hold water.
    It’s not much the stealing process (which is vile and sad, but… No, it’s vile and sad); it’s his defense, which is even worse and pathetic.”

    That’s exactly the point. It doesn’t have to do with philosophical debates on intellectual property, open culture and so on. This guy put his own copyright on other people’s material and made money out of it without crediting them.

  27. It’s like my old man always said…

    “fuck ’em if they can’t steal a joke.”

  28. And he didn’t steal “jokes”, he stole whole acts from other comedians. Currently the list of plagiarized jokes counts about 500 examples, and some of them are routines that last several minutes.
    You can find a 40-minute long video on YouTube if you search “Il meglio [non è] di Daniele Luttazzi]”, but those are only some examples.

  29. First of all I’d like to point out I’m not a Luttazzi fan and definitely I don’t support the left party, nor the right party. At the same time, sorry for my English.

    Well, from my point of view, the truth is in the middle.
    There has been an attack against Daniele Luttazzi; a very clever/smart comedian that is commonly known as being a supporter of the left party.

    Some years ago this comedian has been banned from the Italian TV by the Berlusconi himself, because he “offended” various politicians “crossing the line of satire” attacking Berlusconi and his party (not from my point of view). I used to support Berlusconi and Luttazzi’s jokes were just fun.

    For this reason Luttazzi has been sued by different people, but he won all the judicial acts proving he was right.

    During this time, he wanted to prove he didn’t cross that line and didn’t mean to offend anyone, but just tell fun jokes.

    He had the idea to imitate Lenny Bruce (I don’t really know him), that had similar problems in the past.

    He started to quote famous comedians of the past (so yes, he COPIED their jokes) to protect himself from the attacks.

    How? When someone say “Hey! He offended THAT because of THIS!”, he can say… “well, that was just a quote from Aristotele (or Woody Allen), so yes, if I offended you, then Aristotele offended you as well”.

    He even wrote that in advance, informing all his fans that he was going to do that and they should have “catch” the famous quotes. It was like a game and this can be found on his blog. So yes, he didn’t hide it; he just didn’t mention WHO he was going to “plagiarize”.

    His intention was to confuse all of these people and create a mess, mixing his work with others and protecting himself from attacks. Actually he won many battles this way.

    In the other hand, again, he copied the work of famous comedians without asking them the permission to do this. That’s the weakest part of his story, but… so far I feel like to support him.

    Of course now it’s the Italian right party to point out these facts.
    Did I need to say that?

    1. Thanks for the Italian context and insight, twodimensionalme. Makes a lot more sense now.

      And speaking of stealing jokes, maybe Daniele Luttazzi could steal this one:

      They laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. They’re not laughing now.

      (copyright Bob Monkhouse. Best stand-up one-liner ever.)

  30. @ twodimensionalme,

    no, the repository of plagiarized jokes proves beyond all doubt that Luttazzi started to copy other comedians many years before he encountered any problem with Berlusconi’s censorship. The list goes way back until the early 1990s.

  31. “Of course now it’s the Italian right party to point out these facts.”

    Absolutely not. The scandal was raised by left-wing newspaper L’Unità.
    How come you’re resorting to such “truthiness”.
    Are you Luttazzi in disguise?

  32. The real story goes this way: first of all it’s not true that Luttazzi quoted the authors of his jokes. Only after the bloggers and experts exposed him, he manipulated his own web posts to add the names of the brilliant people he had stolen from for many years. He has published and sold lots of books full of other people’s jokes, and did many theatrical and tv shows without ever mentioning them. What’s more, he said again and again in interviews that all the material he had was written by him and that he could never use lines and jokes written by other people! Not satisfied yet, he complained against a tv host who had stolen a line from him (and the line was by the great George Carlin!). Luttazzi got revenues for “his” books and shows and never said a word about the real creators behind it. These aren’t quotations but the same jokes with sometimes one word changed to make them more understandable for the Italian audience. He wrote posts in many blogs to defend himself, posing as a fan, never revealing his true self! I used to like him but he’s just sad and pathetic. This is not a question of right or left, this is just a matter of intellectual integrity, and he deserves what he’s getting now.

  33. Rarely do comedians tell new and original jokes, often they are “recycled” and merely brought up to date. How many times have comedians “pulled faces” or worn funny clothes to get laughs? Who has the copyright on “falling over”..? Lutazzi at least translates things into Italian, and knowing the average level of “stand up” in Italy, it’s a useful service that he does. Is he original? No, sometimes he isn’t. Is he one of a handful of Italian comedians who has tried to talk out against mafia-tied berlusconi? Yes, and he has paid the price. I don’t think this is much of a real problem here. Emo, you have made me laugh a great deal, but perhaps you should lighten up a little.

  34. COMEDIAN: my boyfriend is so dumb.
    CROWD: how dumb is he?
    COMEDIAN: he’s gay!
    CROWD: hahahahaha
    COMEDIAN: i know! totally binksa, right?
    CROWD 1: (“binksa”?)
    CROWD 2: (could be swahili)
    CROWD 3: (no it’s b-y-n-c-s-a)

  35. The lies “Twodimensionalme” told in his comment are just spectacular, to the extent that it sounds like reading Luttazzi himself. As someone else wrote: Hhhhmmmmmmmmm…

    Luttazzi’s plagiaristic activities began many years before he became more “political” and clashed with the right-wing. You can already find many stolen jokes (and longer routines) in his material from the mid-to-late Nineties.

    His 2001 TV-show “Satyricon” was riddled with plagiarized jokes BEFORE the government started to attack him. He took all his opening acts from the show and built a long theatrical monologue with the same name (“Satyricon”), and it has been calculated that 60% of it was entirely made of routines by Carlin, Hicks and especially Schimmel. Schimmel’s show “Unprotected” was ENTIRELY plagiarized by Luttazzi in the course of the latter’s whole career.

    This is no small thing, as EVERY Luttazzi show was turned into a book, his books have been published by one of the most important Italian publishers (Feltrinelli) and have all been best-sellers. He made a plenty of money out of other people’s material, and this has really nothing to do with politics.

    What “Twodimensionalme” described in his comment, i.e. the LennyBruce-inspired strategy to win legal suits, is an excuse that Luttazzi had to hastily invent in a later phase of his career, in 2007, when someone discovered that two of his most memorable jokes actually came from Bill Hicks’ repertoire. There is no documentation of any trial where Luttazzi resorted to this defence.

    It is just one of the many bizarre explanations Luttazzi came up with around 2007, one of which was the infamous “treasure hunt”. It has been proved that he back-dated a post on his blog where he announced this hunt. It’s now dated 2005 but was actually written in 2007. And in any case, in 2005 he’d already plagiarized other comedians for more than 10 years.

    In fact, now he has an entirely different explanation for his plagiarism: he’s been “improving” those jokes. According to him, the mere fact that he’s telling them in Italian and he’s dressed up instead of wearing funny clothes, is a meaningful “improvement” on Emo Philips’ jokes!

    What people outside of Italy can’t figure out is the EXTENT of this plagiarism. Luttazzi didn’t simply steal “jokes” and bits, he took entire routines and claimed he wrote them himself because he’s a “genius of comedy”. Some routines last many minutes, and he didn’t much more than translate them into Italian.

    Finally, it’s completely untrue that now Luttazzi is being attacked by the right. Left-wing blogs and newspapers are filled with harsh criticism for what he did, and the right-wing media have kept unusually silent and discrete about this case. They don’t need to destroy Luttazzi anymore, as he’s destroying himself lie after lie.

    1. “In fact, now he has an entirely different explanation for his plagiarism: he’s been “improving” those jokes. According to him, the mere fact that he’s telling them in Italian and he’s dressed up instead of wearing funny clothes, is a meaningful “improvement” on Emo Philips’ jokes!”

      The Aristocrats!

  36. Haha, Ive watched the video on the La-Repubblica site and, I instantly knew that was George Carlin material, even though I don’t understand a word italian. He even ‘took’ the mimik and body language and all.

    Captcha: mullikan Talks

  37. Xeni, the joke wasn’t bad, but the punchline was foreshadowed a little too much in the headline “long arm of the LOL.”

  38. While I love Emo Phillips and John Hodgman (and Xeni), this comes off as a call to “protect” the imaginary property of jokes, which I would not support.

    1. While I love Emo Phillips and John Hodgman (and Xeni), this comes off as a call to “protect” the imaginary property of jokes, which I would not support.

      If that was the goal the comedians involved would have filed a lawsuit instead of settling for a public shaming.

  39. His audience doesn’t speak English. He brings them humour they would never hear otherwise. What’s the big deal?

    What nonsense coming from a blog always banging on about copyleft.

    1. “His audience doesn’t speak English. He brings them humour they would never hear otherwise.”

      As a matter of fact, as soon as Carlin’s and Hicks’s material was made available with italian subtitles – largely thanks to these guys:
      http://www.rerosso.it/comedysubs/ – , Italians found out about Luttazzi’s plagiarism and realized that Carlin and Hicks have much better deliveries.

    2. His audience doesn’t speak English. He brings them humour they would never hear otherwise. What’s the big deal?

      It wouldn’t be a big deal if he’d billed himself as a translator rather than a comedian.

  40. I would like to once again direct everyone to Stewart Lee, a brilliant stand up comedian. Joke theft apologists, TAKE NOTE!

  41. TL;DR: This joke thief is doing something unethical, but if only he recognized his sources then his work could be awesome.

    Long version: I am bilingual and I enjoy thinking about how translation imposes compromises but also presents opportunities for creative language. Poetry may be lost in translation, but it must then be re-generated on the other side! Often when I encounter particularly well-crafted language – such as stand-up by George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and sometimes others – I think about how I would translate some particularly twisty bit into Portuguese, re-structuring the slang and cultural references in the process. Sometimes I come up with different-but-equivalent ways of communicating pretty much the same idea, in a way that would be pretty much as funny to a Brazilian person as the original is to an American. And then I think; How cool would it be to have a show in Brazil where I present the best of George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, etc, in a way that an audience would appreciate them even more? (And I have performed a little bit of stand-up in Brazil back when I lived there, so the idea isn’t completely wild). Plenty of shows (especially in Vegas) include nothing but classic songs. Why not have a show of classic stand-up bits? (I see by comment #40 that I am not the first one to have thought of this).

    Of course, the big difference between my imaginary scenario and what this Italian dude is doing is attribution. If I were to pretend that I came up with the bits myself, then that would be dishonest. Not the same thing at all as a tribute show. Sure, when a person tells a joke most people assume that the joke was not created by the person telling it. But when a professional comedian delivers a bit (which may be several minutes long) most people assume that he/she crafted the bit.

    And by the way, shame on the people who see discussions of intellectual property (which here I will define loosely enough to encompass jokes and stand-up bits) as black-and-white. I am a semi-professional photographer and I am upset when my images are used outside of the terms that I allow (especially since I am usually happy to grant more generous terms of use to anyone who asks), but I am also a fan of copyleft (I have donated many photographs to the public domain so that Wikipedia could use them, I once created a college course and released the materials under CC) and I think that the DMCA’s rules against breaking DRM are simply insane. One commenter said that “BoingBoing defends piracy”, but I have never read anything on BoingBoing that promotes the idea that you shouldn’t have to pay to enjoy content that was created at great expense. BoingBoing just points out that you shouldn’t have to pay multiple times, or break the law, in order to enjoy on multiple devices the content that you paid for… and that content distributors don’t often give content creators the choice to distribute their work outside of the DRM paradigm. Is it wrong to download songs and movies so you can enjoy them without paying for them? Of course. But is it wrong to sell people a song/movie/book that only works on one device, and only when the distributor’s authentication server is running, and charge people again for a different version of the same file? Arguably. And even if it isn’t wrong (free market, freedom of contract, etc), it’s still important that more people know the hassles imposed by DRM so that there is more demand for DRM-free media. So yes, a reasonable person can say “piracy is wrong” and “breaking DRM should not be illegal, more content creators should release their work under CC, distributors should offer more DRM-free options” in one breath.

  42. I am (was?) a long time Luttazzi fan. The saddest thing about this story is that even if he is 50% copycat he is still the best comedian in Italy. We just don’t have anyone on par with the american stand up comedians, and the one the I thought could get close was in fact copying a lot.
    I also bought his ‘treasure hunt’ story, until I realized it wasn’t just about a few jokes here and there, but entire parts of monologues.

    1. But we have a great tradition of stand-up comedy, even if we always gave it other names, because in Italy it blended with other genres such as “cabaret”, “avanspettacolo”, etc. What was Ettore Petrolini? An excellent stand-up comedian. And Dario Fo, have you thought of him? Isn’t he of the best stand-up comedians ever? And he even won the Nobel Prize for that! Take a look at “Mistero buffo”, how powerful those routines still are, like “Pope Bonifacius XIII meets Jesus”:

      And we had very intelligent stand-up comedians back in the 1960-1970s, like Walter Chiari, see this marvelous 1971 routine on drugs and painkillers:

  43. Another excellent stand-up comedian (who whas censored by Berlusconi’s regime as much as Luttazzi) is Paolo Rossi, here’s a 1992 gorey routine called “The Sexual Revolution”: revolutionary squads storm Michael Douglas’ house and try to lynch him!

  44. @Andy, you might be right, but you are talking about either dead people or 20+ year old stuff!
    I agree that Paolo Rossi did some interesting stuff in the early nineties, he’s still good but completely changed genre.
    What I miss is the Bill Hicks angry type of comedian.

  45. i have a good one here :

    if Interpol are the guys who handle high-stakes international financial crimes, who do you call when stuff like this happens?

    Inter-LOL! Ha ha!

  46. What I find astonishing about the Luttazzi case is that he’s been able to get away with it for so long, confiding in the fact that his Italian fans couldn’t speak English, and feeling safe in his role a a victim of Mr Berlusconi’s censorship. But the Net is stronger and more determined that any dishonest joke-thief, so Luttazzi’s conduct was finally made public. What I’d like to see now is a class action promoted by disappointed and angered former fans (likle me) to get back from Mr Luttazzi the money he’s made over the years using material he’s stolen from other, real comedians. Pietro.

  47. Luttazzi wrote about his treasure-hunt game in 2005:
    http://www.danieleluttazzi.it/node/144
    In 2007 he also listed the comedians and writers he calqued (no plagiarism):
    http://www.danieleluttazzi.it/node/324

    In other words he never hid anything. His many followers knew about his rouse well before internet. His first banning from tv was in 1989. Recently, he stood accused of defamation by Berlusconi & co. They asked him 160 BILLIONS euros. Luttazzi won all the trials.

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