Friday, January 25, 2008

Ding Dong The Bitch Is Dead Part 2

FINALLY! This is good news for comedians everywhere. Judy Brown has been ripping off comics for so many years that if you cut her open and counted the joke thief rings it would date back to 1857. The year she was born.

Thankfully Jay Leno put a stop to her thievery. Click on the label at the bottom of this post to read the entire story but score one for Team Comics. Writing a joke is one of the hardest things in the world to do. If you don't believe me, write one and then go on stage somewhere and use it.

From Yahoo News

Gina Serpe, Wed Jan 23, 10:02 AM ET Los Angeles (E! Online)

The Tonight Show host has settled a lawsuit filed against the creators of a series of joke books he claimed ripped off material from both his show and stand-up routines.

Leno and his fellow plaintiffs—including NBC Studios and a contingent of fellow comedians, among them Rita Rudner—filed the lawsuit in federal court in November 2006. The target of their ire was Judy Brown, who edited such compilation books as The Funny Pages, Squeaky Clean Comedy, Funny You Should Know That, Getting Old Is a Joke and Joke Stew, as well as the books' respective publishers.

The lawsuit claimed the books were tantamount to copyright, trademark infringement and false endorsement, as each stolen yuk-yuk was attributed to its famous funny creator.

Under the settlement, announced Wednesday, Brown's publishers agreed immediately to cease the distribution, manufacture and sale of the joke books. The defendants will also shell out an undisclosed financial settlement to the comedians, who maintain, as they did when they first filed the suit, that they will donate the money to charity.

"I thought it was important to make it clear that jokes are protected like any other art form," Leno said of the case. "On behalf of the tremendous and talented group of writers we have at The Tonight Show and many other hardworking comedians, I'm very glad we've been able to stop this practice once and for all."

As for Brown, she issued an apology to the comics scorned, who, in addition to Leno and Rudner, included Kathleen Madigan, Jimmy Brogan, Diane Nichols, Bob Ettinger and Sue Pascoe (widow of comedian Ronnie Shakes), and pledged to respect the sanctity of the joke tellers' material in any future publishing endeavors.

"In my books, I have published jokes of Jay Leno and the other comedians in this lawsuit without their permission," Brown said. "I sincerely apologize for doing so. I greatly admire the creativity, wit and energy of stand-up comedians, and I recognize that comedy is as much an art form as other types of creative expression...This is why I am settling this lawsuit by agreeing never again to publish their jokes without asking their permission to do so."

All told, Brown was responsible for compiling 19 of the joke books, all of which were little more than a collection and repackaging of the comics' acts—or as the original lawsuit put it, "no more than alphabetizing original works."

In addition to the stand-ups themselves, NBC got in on the litigation act against Andrews McMeel Publishing, Sterling Publishing and Rowman & Littlefield, as any stolen joke of Leno's is a stolen joke of theirs. Any comic yarn spun by the host on The Tonight Show qualifies as the studio's property, and each episode since 1992 has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Both the studio and the plaintiffs' legal representation, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., have agreed to donate at least a portion of their cut in the settlement to charity, along with Leno and the other comics, all of whom chalk up the legal victory as a major step in comedians' ownership of their material.

Said Boutrous of the legal victory: "The settlement sends a strong message that the intellectual property rights of comedy writers must be respected."


  1. I've heard for years that Robin Williams is a shameless comedy thief along with Carlos Mencia. I listen to XM Radio's Comedy channels occasionally and they featured a funny interview with David Brenner where he said he was at a comedy show and the comic was doing his routine. So, he yelled out, "HEY! It's a lot funnier when David Brenner does it!"

    And then he went up on stage, took the mic, and told the kid, "Here, let me show you how it's done." And then he finished up the bit himself.


  2. Will Menstealia be next?

  3. Elastic: here's the url to an interview I did with Brenner, who is a friend of mine...

    D2, you said Menstealia.

    He apparently can't be stopped. I'm guessing it's because he's making money for the Laugh Factory, among others.

  4. That was a really bad bad thing Judy did. I hope she learned her lesson.
    I couldn't stand up in front of people and say my name,much less try and tell a joke!

  5. Anonymous10:33 AM

    Martha Jane

  6. I think a great "charity" to donate the money to would be all the up-and-coming comics who willingly submitted material to these books under the guise of being published "alongside the likes of Jay Leno,..."

  7. Anonymous12:42 PM

    It's also interesting to me that this was settled in the middle of the Writer's Guild strike. Coincidence, I think not...

    Thanks again, Suzy, for updating us on this important comedy news.
    Aloha again,

  8. Anonymous1:09 PM

    great. Now if Jay would stop scabbing for GE - that would be a real story.

  9. Anonymous1:18 PM

    Exactly. Why is he, Stewart, Colbert et al - with the possible exception of Conan openly performing written jokes that are put on cards and read in front of an audience while their union, of which they are members are fighting for them?

    As a strike captain I attended a meeting last Friday and the subject was brought up by an obviously and justifiably disgruntled late night writer.

    There are some kind of disciplinary measures in the works is the answer we heard. We'll see.

    If Leno's so worried about his writers he should go out there and ask people where they're from for ten minutes and then go on with his scintillating interviews. THAT would send a message.

  10. Anonymous1:37 PM

    The funny thing is, with all the stuff out there on the internet and everywhere, she would not have had to look far to find orriginal funny stuff to publish.

    Hope part of the punishment is she gets to watch syndication of old Leno shows, so she can hear the jokes she stole over and over and over and over.

  11. Anonymous2:02 PM

    Does this mean her students can file a class action suite against her for misleading them on how to "write" comedy....

  12. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that anonymous is a writer?

    I don't blame her/him. God knows what Judy did in those classes. If you read the #1 part of this (under labels at the bottom of this post) you can see that ALL my jokes were used in one of her classes. If it hadn't been for that student who randomly ran into me I wouldn't have known that. And apparently I was on tape and I wasn't the only one.

    Judy deserved this lawsuit for what she did. Glad she lost.

  13. P.S. I hope there are sanctions against the people who traded in their art for cash and went against a community of artists who work hard and often have little rewards to show for it.


  14. Anonymous2:48 PM

    I am beyond shocked that this woman was using other people's material without asking permission! Did she not know that was wrong? How could she not know??? I'm irate.

  15. Anonymous2:57 PM

    What some of the other folks may not know is that for years Judy was the comedy critic for the LA Weekly. If a comedian got her "Pick of the Week," then a photo was in the paper and it helped for increased publicity, audience numbers and the "love" of the club owner who saw his/her venue listed. I think in the beginning that comics were to worried about making her angry to really protest...she hasn't been a critic for years...only a thief...
    Aloha again and again,
    Martha Jane

  16. I have no respect for such people. I don't even like blogs that post old jokes and email forwards. Add something new or go do something useful.

  17. GAH!!!! EMail joke forwards and old jokes!!!!!!!!! Make it stop!!!!

  18. Am I too assume that Martha Jane lives in Hawaii? Aloha.

    Here's my commentary about Carlos Mencia:

    Calling his show "The Mind of Mencia," is like calling the statue, "The Arms of Venus de Milo."

  19. Cathy, that's so hilarious I don't know what to say...

  20. Anonymous5:27 PM

    Yes, I live in Hawaii. It's fabulous. And to bring up a whole new subject...I recommend anyone who is interested in standup comedy read Steve Martin's "Born Standing Up," and for today's subject -- the part where he realizes that he must write original material, but I digress...I am a HUGE Steve Martin fan....
    Aloha again and again,

  21. Anonymous7:49 PM

    I wondered whatever happened with this case!

    BTW, I just read "Born Standing Up" and it's wonderful. I love him even more now.

  22. Anonymous12:07 PM

    That is shocking that she has "written" so MANY books. Gawd...she could have been creating something original with all her experience in life and all the time she put into it. I told her DAY ONE when we were still speaking-it was a bad idea. I am glad she got slapped around with a big time law suit and was disgraced by the comedy community she blood-sucked for profit. Mariana Tilton Williams, Former President of West Coast Comedy Contact

  23. Hey Mariana, long time no talk. I'm glad you weighed in on this one.

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