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):

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Mikester, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 5:16pm

    We're sorry

    "We're sorry, currently our video library can only be streamed within the United States."


    Yeah, I was *that* guy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 5:18pm

    They stole something from Tim and Eric?

    Watch me care. Those two are to comedy what Manos is to film: an utter embarassment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    canadiandiva (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 5:24pm

    Why does the U.S hate Canada?

    I am with you Mikester. I get the same thing and frankly, I get it a lot.
    Boooooooooooooo, eh!


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 5:33pm


    I'm with you. And SNL isn't any better. Hell, it hasn't even been watchable in the last decade or more...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    interval (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 6:31pm

    Awsome Show Great Job...

    ...is strange show non-sequitur. And SNL is just bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    PopeRatzo (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 6:38pm

    Adult Swim is Go

    Say what you will about Tim and Eric, but Adult Swim has provided me with some of my best entertainment over the past few years. From Squidbillies to Superjail to Metalocalypse and ATFH (now Carl's Lock of the Centry (of the Week)) I have spent many an enjoyable hour over at Adult Swim Fix.

    I do enjoy Children's Hospital, too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 6:42pm

    "We're sorry, currently our video library can only be streamed within the United States."

    No access no sympathy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Derek, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 6:46pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    latin angel (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 7:08pm

    Re: We're sorry

    Querido Hulu...

    Bueno, querido no, nunca he podido ver tu contenido.

    de que sirve la regionalizaci├│n de contenidos en esta era de internet?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    DS, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 9:26pm


    Well, that settles that then. Hey all Tim and Eric fans, you can stop being fans. Anonymous Poster decreed that they suck. You can stop enjoying them now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Wolferz (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 9:57pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Pete Austin, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 1:08am


    I don't have any problem with Hulu being US only - if they use a .US domain. Using a .COM domain, but saying "talk to the hand" to most of the world, damages America's reputation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 6:18am

    I miss The Brak Show, that was the best thing to ever come from Adult Swim with the exception of Sealab 2021, but Sealab wasn't the same without Captain Murphy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Sean T Henry (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 6:29am

    Re: Re:

    People that do not have ADD enjoyed Tim and Eric? The only good bit they did was the one where they well telling cheerleaders that all food is poison.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 7:01am

    Nothing is new or unique anymore. What's the problem? Everybody is copying everybody else. What's the big deal. With modern tech if you have an idea chances are someone else has the same idea somewhere else. Were the pyramids an original idea?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Trails (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re: We're sorry

    me gusta el queso. ┬┐Quanto custa el gatto negro? Mui expensivo, Carlotta.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Patrik, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 9:11am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Michael (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 9:29am

    In Living Color

    I first saw tiny hats in comedy sketches with flamboyant movie reviewers sketch on In Living Color.

    Maybe the Wayans brothers should get in the mix on this bullsh..?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Happy kumar, Feb 5th, 2011 @ 4:29am

    Play in spat

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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