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  • Gad Elmaleh (right) is being accused to have stolen standup material from Jerry Seinfield (left) (Getty and Studio Harcourt)
In a story that has caused some very heated public discussion in France, a series of French comedians have been called out for having been very, very closely "inspired" by the work of famous American stand ups.
English
By
Christophe Mallet

23 Nov 2017 - 4:03 PM  UPDATED 23 Nov 2017 - 5:06 PM

A video doing the rounds on social media in France reveals that a bunch of French comedians seem to be performing routines that are uncannily similar to those of high-profile American comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Robin Williams.

So have the French comedians stolen material or were they simply "inspired"?

Watch the video in question to form your own opinion:

Among the culprits are Gad Elmaleh (who has recently toured Australia), who seems to have copied a skit on flight attendants from Jerry Seinfeld and Jammel Debbouze, who could have taken a skit about a theft from Dave Chappelle.

But that’s not all, comedians Malik Benthala, Michel Quirogua, Yacine Belhouse, Arthur, Walter and Tomer Sisley also seem to have taken near-identical material from Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Hart, David Brenner, Robin William, Bill Hicks, Jon Stewart, Bill Dwyer and Ardal O’Hanlon.

There’s a whole video specifically focused on routines performed by Tomer Sisley, suggesting they were lifted from various American comic legends.

He seems to have taken the accusations in his stride though. He published a fake business card on his Instagram account: stating his job as: "Tomer Sisley, translations of all kinds."

The Youtube channel CopyComic has since added more videos of other French comedians.

In France, the national media were all over the scandal, but the comedians themselves kept rather quiet.

Some of them said it was inspiration, not theft and that you can judge a whole show on small excerpts like this.

“People in the industry knew about this,” said Antoinette Colin, the art director of Le Point virgule, a performing arts centre in Paris, to French newspaper Le Monde. “These days, with the Internet, you have to be really dumb to keep stealing material.”

On social media, people were not impressed:

"Personally, I don't find that funny at all and I hope the Amercains will sue them and make them pay..."

"#CopyComic, it's crazy... You realise that comedian have no personality"

"It's scary to see this copy and paste, word for word, on #CopyComic. It's not just inspiraiton, it's pure plagiarism."

Maybe these guys could learn something from Funny How – the TV program that takes a look at what it takes to be a comic, seeking out rookie and veteran comics to uncover hidden truths to reveal the universal humanity behind the craft of comedy.

Watch Funny How on Monday nights at 7:30pm on SBS Viceland and stream at SBS On Demand. Watch the first episode below: