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August 31, 2015

British comic claims TV ad ripped him off

by Danny Gallagher, posted Nov 12th 2009 7:02PM
If Mad Men is any indication of what its like to work in the real advertising world, then the writing process alone must cause more migraines than swimming in radioactive sewage.

That's still no excuse for stealing material, if that is in fact the case with this British ad. UK comic Micky Flanagan claims an ad agency stole a joke from his act for a phone service commercial and is a stone's throw away from filing a lawsuit. Punchline Magazine posted videos of the joke and the ad. Is this just a coincidence or is the ad pulling a Carlos Mencia?

First, listen to Flanagan's joke...

And now, watch the ad, which is after the jump.

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Gregory Schwartz

There seems to be a new fad: copyrighting common phrases. There's somebody who thinks he owns the phrase "are you ready to rumble" and OJ Simpson (loser) tried to copyright "OJ" as his own. The entire English language is there for all of us to use, and nobody has the right to claim exclusive rights to individual words. They are all there for all of us to use. Period!
Gregg in Sarasota, Florida

November 14 2009 at 8:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is a direct rip off of this guy's hard work!!! It's not easy to put a good stand-up comedy bit together and he should be rewarded. If this commercial was aired a good amount of time after his set on T.V, he's gotta shot... he has my backing here in the USA!!!

November 14 2009 at 8:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've watched both the joke and the commercial. It appears the comedian's beef is not with copywrite infringement on the term "out-out" but actually with the premise of the ad itself. The comedian's joke is about 'popping out' to the pub and getting coerced into 'going out-out' to a nightclub. The commercial does close to the same thing, in that the character popped out to his 'office' (the pub) and continued by going out-out to a nightclub.

I was stationed in the UK in the 80's and 'going out-out' was common even then for those who were going out to party instead of just 'popping out' for a quick pint. Even in some places here in the States when someone says they're going out, they'll be asked, "Are you going out-out or just out?" meaning are they going to be gone long or just for a tiny bit?

I don't think the comedian will have a case, though. since 'going out-out' is generally used to mean going out to enjoy the whole evening such as dinner/dancing, going to a nightclub, and 'popping out' means to just go for something quickly. There's very few things that cross-over from 'popping out' to fully 'going out-out' and going from a pub to a nightclub to continue partying would be the most popular. If it's that popular, then the idea was not stolen from his act, but only that both are actually discussing the same thing in just minutely different ways.

Only my personal take on this whole thing.

November 14 2009 at 5:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hey Mickey, look at the bright side. Before this article you were a completely and utterly unknown "comic". Everyone (that would be everybody) who has never heard of you now knows of your existence . Enjoy your 15 minutes.

November 14 2009 at 4:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wait, wasn't his whole joke based on the fact that British people already make a distinction between being "out" and being "out out"? If he's saying he invented the concept, then the joke makes no sense in the first place. The ad is just poking fun at the same aspect of Britishness that the comedian poked fun at. It's pathetic for him to make an issue of it.

November 14 2009 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

OOPS! I just looked it up on Wikipedia. It's the British subsidiary of the Knowledge Generation Bureau (KGB)
In other words, 118 118 is the British equivalent of the US's 542 542

November 14 2009 at 3:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No wonder he's irritated!
Not only did they rip off his material but they RUINED the delivery!
There is a major difference between the two ..
He is FUNNY and their rip off commercial is lame.
Sorry those jerks ripped you off Micky. :(

November 14 2009 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, depending on how limited that comedians material is,...& it seems rather limited from the clip, & his annoyance at the same line of thinking in a commerical, which should probably only serve to make him & his joke more of a household name, ...at least that's how it would happen in the US, ...I can see his point, but I can't actually see any infringements of copyright type of thing happening, especially since he most probably does NOT HAVE copyrights on his jokes.
AND, I think the point to the joke is that he is using phrases that are very commonly used, & Brit specific. Like having jokes based on other British terms that may see strange to Americans;
Ring someone up or Knock someone up = call or visit
lift = elivator
flat = apartment
Although, by them using the same phrases i the commercial, & him b!tch!ng he has brought more attention to himself & his comedy routine.
Let's hope he has more material & can rise above this moment of annoyance.

November 14 2009 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What's the ad for, that's what I want to know. Need a mate? Is this a male escort service to get friends?

November 13 2009 at 4:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Willmore2000's comment

I think it's for the British Directory Assistance, like 411 here in the states.

November 14 2009 at 3:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not a chance in hell he wins this lawsuit. Not in the UK or the US. Even if he could somehow show infringement, he could NEVER prove any monetary damages. I don't see a copyright issue here, certainly no trademark issue, and insofar as there may (I stress - may) be the slightest bit of seeming plaigarism, that's not the basis of a lawsuit.

I also wonder whether the phrase "out out" was being used before he told the joke. Even if he "invented" the idea, you can't copyright an idea (only the expression of an idea), and like I said, he doesn't have any trademark claims on it.

Either they'll settle for a hundred pounds and a few 118 coupons - just for the nuisance value of the lawsuit - or the lawsuit will be dismissed outright.

November 13 2009 at 1:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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