Late-night talk show host James Corden apologized after he was accused of committing a mortal sin in the world of comedy: He stole another comic’s joke.
The joke in question was delivered during the opening monologue of his Monday show when Mr. Corden was making a crack about how Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk compares the social media platform to a town square.
“But it isn’t, because if someone puts up a poster in a town square that says ‘guitar lessons available,’ you don’t get people in the town going, ‘I don’t wanna play the guitar! I wanna play the piano!’ ” the host said during his Monday show. “But that sign wasn’t for you, it was for somebody else. You don’t have to get mad about all of it!”
Internet sleuths soon realized that the joke was almost an exact copy of one first made by comedian Ricky Gervais in his 2018 Netflix special “Humanity.”
“Plagiarism? I don’t know what people are talking about, these two jokes by @JKCorden and @rickygervais are barely similar,” tweeted Paul Anthony (@PaulFI9), with tongue firmly in cheek on Tuesday. His tweet included a video of the joke told by the two men.
“Inadvertently told a brilliant Ricky Gervais joke on the show last night, obviously not knowing it came from him,” Mr. Corden wrote on the show’s Twitter account Tuesday. “It’s brilliant, because it’s a Ricky Gervais joke. You can watch all Ricky’s excellent specials on Netflix. J x.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Mr. Gervais cheekily acknowledged the joke in a now-deleted tweet where he said, “The bit about the town square advert for guitar lessons is brilliant.”
However, Mr. Gervais followed that up by saying he “started to feel sorry” for Mr. Corden because “I reckon one of the writers ‘came up with it’ for him. I doubt he would knowingly just copy such a famous stand up routine word for word like that.”
The late-night host has been in the news lately after New York City restaurateur Keith McNally called Mr. Corden a “tiny cretin of a man” last month for verbally abusing his staff at his ritzy Manhattan eatery Balthazar.
Mr. McNally went as far as to ban the comedian from his restaurant, but the two quickly patched things up — until the restaurateur accused Mr. Corden of lying to the London Times by saying his behavior wasn’t as unruly as it was made out to be.
“On second viewing, I found his TV ‘confessional’ contrived and phony. The actor will say anything to save his bacon,” Mr. McNally wrote Monday on Instagram.