Once Again, Social Mores Come To Play In Spat Between SNL & Adult Swim Over Tiny Hats Sketches

from the copying-is-easy,-being-funny-is-hard dept

We’ve been talking a lot about how social mores can often deal with “copying” situations better than any legal claim could, and in particular have talked about it in the context of comedians, where jokes are not considered copyrightable. However, copying does have costs, especially when people call you out. Witness the “dispute” over whether or not Saturday Night Live “copied” a sketch from Adult Swim, both of which are called “Tiny Hats.”

Honestly, the claims of copying seem a bit overblown. While both are called “Tiny Hats” and both do involve characters wearing a tiny hat, that’s about as far as the similarities go. The overall concepts beyond that are pretty different. However, apparently, it’s created a big stink online, with the comedians behind the Adult Swim version “calling out” SNL. However, they don’t seem to have any interest in going legal (not that they could) and later admitted that inspiration comes from all over:

He says he’s not particularly angry, and thinks it could have just been coincidence, as Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Andy Samberg, among other “SNL” cast members, have appeared on “Adult Swim.”

“We understand that we’ve created something that a lot of people in comedy watch and like, and influences are totally fine,” he says. “We draw influences from people all the time.”

He goes on, “I don’t want to start a big thing here. But it’ll be interesting to see what the web does with this.”

And, indeed, that last line is the key: there are social costs if what you’re doing is seen as being too close. However, I’ll let you be the judge of whether or not these skits are too close (and, um, whether or not either one is actually funny):

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Comments on “Once Again, Social Mores Come To Play In Spat Between SNL & Adult Swim Over Tiny Hats Sketches”

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Derek (profile) says:

I’m wondering *why* the Adult Swim folks would feel that SNL was anything other than *possibly* inspired by the idea of tiny hats.

Can the same trope not appear in two different jokes? A priest and a rabbi? Two guys walk into a bar? Besides, as mentioned, the jokes aren’t even remotely similar. One is about fashion and one-upping, the other is about… Well… Spoofing commercials?

Today I saw a poster for another movie with a spaceship in it! And heard a second song about heartbreak!

Social mores are a two-way street, and for me they backfire on Adult Swim here. My read is that Adult Swim’s comedians are kind of douchey for even bringing this up.

Wolferz (profile) says:

There's no such thing as bad PR.

And if you think this isn’t drawing them extra attention well you need to talk to our friend Mike here about a little thing he dubbed “the streisand effect.” It’s functional principles can be manipulated for gain in the hands of a smart man. SNL and Adult Swim will both get a spike in viewership from this… and some of those people will stick around for a while.

Bad PR is still good advertising… so long as you don’t put swastikas on everything or some such.

Patrik (user link) says:

Both Shows Have Their Merit.

I’m hopelessly un-ADHD, and I find most TV unbearably scattered… but for some reason I don’t find Tim & Eric to be that way. They’re hilarious. And it seems that a lot of America’s funniest, IMO, comedians think so, too. Why else would so many of them appear on the show?

But as far as funny bits: the whole “Jim and Derek” episode was brilliant. “On top of Tom Skerrit, all covered in talent” still makes me laugh. The hacky sack battles are good for a chuckle. All the “bad” infomercials trip me out. “This is what a man sounds like when he walks” is awesome, I still hear bands covering that song. “Trick my trick,” “Beaver Boys,” the whole jazz singer thing… I think the show is great.

I loathe being the guy saying, “You people don’t get it,” but if you’re watching T&E for straight-forward comedy, you’re missing the point. It’s supposed to be cringe-inducing and awkward. T&E have even said that none of it’s supposed to be funny. It’s supposed to be uncomfortable, like watching public access television. Which is funny by not being funny, or that good.

And SNL has its moments. There was a sketch last season with Dave Grohl about a dad reuniting his band at his daughter’s wedding; a band that turned out to be a hardcore punk act. It was funny as hell. Maybe I like it because I’m a music geek.

As for it not being funny for the last decade: people *always* say that about the show. It was considered “awful” when Mike Meyers, Adam Sandler, and Chris Farley were on, but everyone points to those as good episodes now. Same deal when Molly Shannon and Will Ferrel were on, now people love that era. It’s always been so “hip” to hate SNL. The only time it was actually unwatchable on the whole was the late 80s when the bands played on a balcony. They don’t even rerun those episodes now.

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