- The Windsor Meat co. butcher shop in Vancouver, B.C. hit social media gold last week when a photograph of its in-store window display went viral online.The picture racked up more than 2,000 upvotes on Reddit, 5,000+ points on Imgur, and nearly 200,000 views on Buzzfeed.The only problem? The joke was lifted from New York-based comedian Myq Kaplan's act without attribution -- and he was not pleased."Did you know? Vegans live 15 years longer because they aren't invited anywhere fun or dangerous," read the Windsor Meat co. chalkboard sign in the photo. "Instead they stay at home crying and drinking, being careful not to cry into the drink because tears are a product of animal suffering. The more you know..."A user called Luongod submitted the image to Reddit on Dec. 26 with the headline "A butcher's take on vegans," provoking plenty of compliments as well as a heated debate over veganism.
- It wasn't long, however, before a fan of Kaplan's noticed that the joke sounded familiar."The joke is from Myq Kaplan," the user wrote, linking to a 7-month-old post in Reddit's comedy-themed r/standupshots subforum. That comment quickly rose to the top of the thread, where it remains.
- As it turns out, the joke was originally performed by Kaplan -- who himself is a vegan -- on Conan during a live set in February of 2012.After recieving several messages from fans about the shop's sign, Kaplan took to his own blog with a message."Hello, internet people, including whoever put a joke about vegans that I wrote on a butcher shop window," he wrote. "I wrote a joke a few years ago and performed it on ‘Conan’ in 2012."
"This past week, people started messaging me about that same joke appearing on the window of a butcher shop," he continued. "They did this without crediting me, without permission, and without the context of it being told by a vegan; in fact, with the exact opposite context. You know how I could say I hate my family, but if YOU say you hate my family, I might chop you up and eat you, if I weren’t vegan? It’s like that."
- While joke stealing itself is a contentious issue online, Kaplan's main concern was the context in which his joke was taken."I’m the vegan who made the joke. And I can take a joke, I just can’t take that a joke was taken from me," he wrote. "I don’t know if any actual harm has been done. I don’t know if people will eat more meat because they think a butcher shop is funny. I doubt it. I don’t know if vegans will change their mind and start eating meat because they think they’ve been ridiculed by a butcher shop. I doubt it. But I do think that when people create something, other people shouldn’t take it and use it without permission or credit. So I just wanted to let people know."
- Responding to criticism from consumers on Dec. 28, Windsor Meat Co. posted the following to it's Facebook page:"Wow everyone needs to relax. The sign was a joke from a Vegan comedian that we found funny. Now everyone stop fighting and lets settle this all over a nice steak dinner...""Well in the US (and UK, too), that's plagiarism," replied a commenter named Billy Procida. "Although it's not right to lift so directly like that from someone without permission, even finding out the name of the comic and putting it at the bottom of the sign is the proper thing to do. You can still correct your mistake..."Instead, the meat shop issued a more formal apology:"Apologies for not crediting talented comedian Myq Kaplan for the vegan joke we used on the sign. Although we were unaware of who the comedian was initially the bit made us laugh and we wanted to share it with our customers. It did not come from a place of hate or judgement towards the vegan community. And not crediting the comedian when we found out his name was a mistake."The shop also sent a personal email to Kaplan, which was much appreciated according to the comedian."I manage a butcher shop in West Vancouver, Canada. Let me start by apologizing in the wake of the sign in our butcher shop that went viral last week," reads the email posted by Kaplan on his blog. "In hindsight I should have made an effort to find out and ask for your permission to use the joke and in the very least credit you for something that we found amusing. It was not intended to be passed on in any other fashion than to give people the same laugh that you gave me. However this is not meant to be an excuse. Just a reason why all of this has happened. We harbour no ill will toward vegetarians or vegans but have a general love of food culture and comedy."Kaplan may be satisfied with the response, but as the comedy blog Laughspin writes "joke theft is a common worry amongst talented comedians whose bits may not yet be as recognizable like jokes from Jerry Seinfeld or Chris Rock... a lesson to businesses: we know you’re not very funny. Pay the funny people to take care of your witty signs."
- Many around the web appear to agree.
- What are your thoughts on joke attribution? Share them below.