Culture

Marc Maron Has Zero Time For The “Unfuckable Hate-Nerds” Who Think Amy Schumer Steals Jokes

"You read the comments: this is not about justice, this is about hate. This is about annihilating a woman."

Over the last couple of weeks, Amy Schumer has been at the centre of a brewing controversy after several female comedians publicly accused her of stealing their material. On January 19, comics Wendy Liebman, Kathleen Madigan and Tammy Pescatelli took to Twitter pointing out that several of Schumer’s bits and sketches had similar jokes, concepts and punchlines from their own material.

Schumer quickly issued an emphatic denial that she had stolen anyone’s work, and Liebman soon clarified that she had never intended to accuse Schumer of stealing, instead writing it off as a case of ‘parallel thinking’ common among prolific comedians who put out a lot of observational material. Pescatelli later apologised on the Jim Norton Advice Show for making the accusation. Most of the relevant tweets have since been deleted.

Since the three comedians’ original accusations, several compilation clips have surfaced claiming to ‘prove’ Schumer and her writing team have lifted jokes from various sketch shows and stand-up bits. One of those clips purports to show fellow comedian and Marc Maron complaining on his WTF podcast that Schumer stole one of his jokes (skip to 7:30 in the video below for the relevant audio).

Clearly incensed by the implication he thinks Schumer is a joke thief, Maron took around 20 minutes out of his latest WTF episode to clear the air, and took some shots at the video’s compiler at the same time. (These quotes have been edited for clarity and brevity, although not for swearing. You can listen to the episode in full here.)

“Amy’s the real fucking deal. She’s a real fucking comic, no question. Here’s the thing. All this fucking — this, this onslaught of accusations, this momentum, this fucking mob attack on Amy Schumer — it’s fucking ridiculous. It’s just fucking ridiculous.

“So where’s it come from? What is it really about? What is the real pattern here? What is it? The conversation I had [on the podcast] was edited by some fuckin’ monkey to sound like I accused Amy of stealing… I didn’t think Amy stole my bit, I was mad we had a similar bit! That was it! There was no way either of us could’ve taken each other’s bits! We don’t live in the same world, we don’t see each other. Now we have a similar bit. So what?”

Maron explained to his listeners that, as prolific comedians in an age where comedic content is so ubiquitous and widespread, it’s almost impossible to constantly come up with entirely original, uninfluenced material, especially when it comes to observational humour about everyday things that many people experience. In Maron’s opinions, most supposed instances of plagiarism are the unavoidable consequence of different people coming up with similar punchlines for the same situations.

“Writers who write monologues for fucking TV shows: they throw away 50 one-liners a day. It becomes impossible to vet mundane material based on observations. There are thousands of fucking comics churning out jokes every fucking day, everywhere. Comedians absorb what’s coming in, and they process it,” Maron says. “In order to vet a joke against the history of recorded comedy, it’s fucking impossible! This isn’t an apologist position, it’s just reality. And where’s the outrage about the repetition of current-event jokes, or the repetition of sitcom plots? I mean, come on. This is comedy, for fuck’s sake. This is not a pattern of Amy stealing jokes, it doesn’t exist.”

Pointing to the fact that someone edited audio of one of his interviews to serve their own agenda, Maron then went on to claim that the apparent outrage at Schumer’s supposed joke-lifting is a symptom of something much more sinister: the organised abuse and harassment of women in the internet.

“Some fuckin’ monkey edited my words to support his agenda to accuse Amy of stealing. Now, there’s a difference betrween ‘justice’ and fucking annihilation. Now, I know some female comics got mad at her and tweeted at her and whatever, then they eventually, I think, recanted or apologised, but that gave a foundation to what’s happening now. Who’s attacking Amy Schumer?”

Maron pointed to his experiences dealing with internet commenters whenever his podcast hosted a female guest as evidence the attacks against Schumer are about much more than people’s concern for comedy. “Without fuckin’ fail, if we had a woman guest — doesn’t matter who it was, or what she did — if we had a woman guest, the comments section would blow up with just fucking douchebags attacking that woman with fucking garbage. Slander, violence; just nasty shit, just a fucking string of anonymous fuckin’ monsters slinging garbage at any woman guest.

“So what is that about? This ‘fight for justice’, this sort of righteous idea that you’re gonna police comedy, and call out joke thieves? They’re all dudes, they’re all fucking dudes! And they’re all saying the same fucking thing! It’s got nothing to do with justice. This is about annihilating a woman, annihilating a comedian, but it’s about annihilation.”

Maron went further, arguing that a large, organised grouping of maladjusted men were actively working to silence and demean women online.

“So who the fuck are these people? It’s my belief that there’s this mob momentum. These guys, they have leaders, they know who their leaders are, they all share the same ideology — they have leaders because they’re too weak not to have leaders. What’s happening to Amy, it has nothing to do with justice, it has nothing to do with comedy. This is the real pattern. She, through the internet, and through video, is literally being verbally career-raped by an army of unfuckable hate-nerds. They play video games all day, then they watch MMA, then they spend the evening jerking off to deep-throat gag porn, then they put a few hours into shaming Amy. You read the comments: this is not about justice, this is about hate.

“Now look, I’m no fucking saint. All fucking dudes have their sexist moments. All of us. Some of us are teachable, and hopefully we evolve out of that. But misogyny requires commitment, and it requires, in this case, a mob mentality of like-minded people. This is about hate, it’s about anger, it’s about complete fucking woman-bashing, and it’s about this contingent of culture.

“This momentum, culturally, is insanely dangerous because what it does to creative people, or people to are trying to put themselves out there, or to people who are trying to do new things and open up the minds and do that kind of stuff, we become fucking self-censoring and paranoid and crazy, and it becomes like: ‘is it worth it’? This need to one-up, this need to call foul, to call theft or whatever, all it’s gonna do eventually is completely stifle creativity.

“Now, obviously, plagiarism is bad when it exists, when it happens. But mostly, it’s just about stifling voices, shutting people down. And if these guys, the narrow-minded, hateful, frightened momentum of socially, emotionally, psychologically and morally compromised individuals wins, then it’s fucking over. There’s no progress, there’s no creativity, there’s no sort of moral compass. It’s a fucking cultural malignancy.”

For her part, Schumer has thanked Maron for defending her.