The stand up comedy ‘art form’ as its commonly referred to, had its first recorded appearance in 1805 in vaudeville theatres – where the jokes were short, with sharp punch lines to keep the audience laughing and engaged. These types of comics and theatres were eventually overrun with the development of the cinema industry, however the comedic value remained. Pin pointing the birth of stand up comedy as such is unclear, however it’s legacy can certainly still be seen in today’s contemporary context.
Amy Schumer has risen to popularity in the comedy industry recently for her bravery in tackling controversial issues using comedy – such as abortion, racism, and rape. Her Comedy Central TV Show Inside Amy Schumer has been running since 2013 and receives a lot of buzz for tackling topical issues with humour. She’s often commended for generating discussion for body positivity and female empowerment; especially when she posed almost naked for the 2016 Pirelli Calendar:
Schumer addressed the viral image in her exclusive Netflix show ‘The Leather Special’ where she joked that having a nude photo of you go viral being commended as “brave” isn’t very empowering…
More recently however, Schumer has come under fire for stealing jokes and using them in either her show or stand-up skits. In the comedy industry, if the joke is fixed in an accessible, tangible medium, (e.g. writing, video, podcast) they are able to be protected under copyright laws.
Such copyright laws are in place to protect creativity, originality, and the comic as an individual making a living. In some instances I say they are useful in protecting ideas, or in this case jokes, as in the comedy industry, rehashing the same punch lines would be boring for audiences and no longer funny. So in that case I suppose it’s good.
However on the other hand, I’d like to think that in order to create strong culture, there needs to be freedom in ideas and expression, which copyright doesn’t really allow as it restricts content production. The point being, just because someone is perhaps more famous, has more recognition, or is well-known may say the joke to an audience, doesn’t necessarily mean they were the original creators it.
Anyway, some of the following jokes may offend some, (most are sexual) but it shows the jokes Schumer is being accused of copying:
At the end of the day, stand-up comedy is there for humorous entertainment. If the comedian struggles to be original, so be it, isn’t the joke in the delivery and not the punch line anyway?… IDK, you be the judge 😉