As a former target, it’s always fun to see who has slighted her next. Last summer it was Tom Arnold. This week’s “asshats” (her affectionate pet name for me) are Chuck Lorre and Ashton Kutcher. In a recent angry flurry of tweets she accused them of stealing one of her jokes and using it on last Thursday’s episode of TWO AND A HALF MEN.
Unless I’m misreading the actual tweets.
friends told me that ashton kuchner is stealing my jokes without any sense of being conscious of being a fucking thief. #chucklorre
A--hole kuchner (sic) is stealing my 'wet where I'm supposed to be dry' joke @JohnnyAgent motherf---ing thief
Later the lovely Ms. Barr tweeted:
i would steal one of his jokes to make it even but they all suck ass.
But wait. There’s more:
Chuck Lorre has made MILLIONS-hundreds of millions-YET-he STEALS COMEDIAN'S WRITING-helps himself 2 STEAL other ppl's work w no guilt.
One thing chuck lorre will never do: apologize for lifting material from me or other comics or other tv shows.
This was the joke: Kutcher’s character talks about what it must be like to be 91 years old. He says: "I'd imagine that you're wet in the places you used to be dry, and dry in the places you used to be wet."
Well, first of all, if you're going to steal there are way better jokes to steal. I sure wouldn’t make a Federal case over that particular line, but regardless, Chuck Lorre and the writers of TWO AND A HALF MEN have more than proved over the years they’re quite capable of coming up with jokes without having to resort to theft.
Is it possible one of the writer inadvertently lifed that line, having heard it somewhere but not remembering where? Absolutely. Things are stored in your brain that are missing the acquisition tags. Especially when the joke is only a variation of her line. Hers referred not to old age but menopause. This was her original joke:
“I’m wet where I’m supposed to be dry and dry where I’m supposed to be wet.”
But getting back to subconscious plagiarism -- there’s a great story about Paul McCartney. He came up with the melody for “Yesterday” and thought it was so good that he must’ve subliminally stole it. For days he played the melody to friends asking where they had head it? He couldn’t believe it was original. (It was of course.)
On the flip side, musical genius Brian Wilson (not the idiot baseball pitcher with the clown beard and Mohawk) has created some of the most extraordinary melodies and harmonies. And yet he put out “Surfin’ U.S.A.” without realizing it had the exact same melody as Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen.” Oops.
But to suggest Chuck and company purposely ripped off Roseanne Barr is just nuts. Especially since she also blamed Ashton Kutcher who was just the actor reciting the script. As someone who had a television sitcom, Roseanne doesn’t know that actors don’t make up their dialogue? The woman needs her medicine cocktail adjusted.
She later backed off her claim and tweeted this:
If I'm unable2 sue billionaire chuck lorre4 theft, then I will force myself 2 watch his shows-& steal his jokes 2-altho NOT many R FUNNY
I can C chuck in the room: 'guys, let's b careful when lifting jokes frm comics-don't steal copyrighted HBO special jokes-b more discreet'.
Seriously, they can re-figure the dosages in the cocktail.
Comedy writers are expected to come up with voluminous amounts of material daily. Occasionally something is going to be accidentally borrowed. You hate when that happens. It’s embarrassing. But not malicious. Again, as a seasoned veteran she should know that.
punch-up guy named Jerry Belson who came in one day a week. Jerry was truly one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. He and Garry Marshall developed the TV version of THE ODD COUPLE. I remember one time during a rewrite he pitched a joke that the Charles Brothers rejected. He defended it by saying, “It got a big laugh on THE ODD COUPLE.’ One of us asked, “Well, Jerry, if you used it on THE ODD COUPLE, why are you pitching it now?” and he said, “Because what went before is good too.”
Final thought: Wouldn’t it be great if it was Chuck Lorre who wrote that original line? Or it turns out she herself stole it from Joan Rivers?