Posted by: martinworster | August 19, 2010


Much a twitter about nothing..

I see that Keith Chegwin has been taken to task by other comedians for allegedly stealing jokes and publishing them on Twitter. Comedians such as Ed Bryne and David Baddiel have criticised Cheggers for lifting jokes wholesale and then publishing them uncredited on Twitter. Comedians who have been victim to this joke theft include Jimmy Carr, Lee Mack and Milton Jones.

It seems like Cheggers is being ganged up on here. To me jokes are there to be passed on and recycled. Much like proverbs, myths and stories, they enter the public domain and can be passed on to add light and humour to the otherwise normal humdrum existences we lead. I didn’t know jokes could be copyrighted?

‘Did you hear about the bloke who walked into a…hang on a minute before I tell that one I better mention that Lee Smith of Basildon owns the copyright to that gag. He registered it first in 1994 and any royalties garnered through it’s telling must be passed on to Mr Smith as well as full accreditation…so anyway, this bloke…’ 

I mean it’s madness – there was Cheggers innocently trying to cheer up a few of his 36,000 followers (I’m sure more after this has been published) and he’s ganged up on by the joke bullies. As an 80s has been who saw posthumous success through his self parodying (and frankly brilliant) appearance on Ricky Gervais’ Extras, he was always an easy target. It’s not as if he’s directly profiting from passing on jokes via Twitter. It would be different if he was using these jokes as part of paid work like doing stand up comedy in a club or on TV. But he’s not.

The limiting of characters means Twitter is a great medium for jokes. Most of my favourite Tweets are by jokesters. I try to spread gags on also. Some I make up. Others – admittedly – I recycle. Leave Cheggers alone, he’s not ready for the old jokes home just yet.


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