Is Conan O’Brien a joke thief? That’s what a a judge will to determine when the “Conan” host heads to court to face a lawsuit — filed in 2015 — accusing him of stealing five jokes from a website that wound up in his talk show monologue.
According to the New York Times, plaintiff Alex Kaseberg — a comedy writer who has written jokes for Jay Leno — alleges that several jokes he posted on his blog later found their way into O’Brien’s monologues.
In his complaint, Kaseberg points to the similarities, such as this joke that he posted on his blog on Dec. 2, 2014: “The University of Alabama-Birmingham is shutting down its football program. To which the Oakland Raiders said, ‘Wait, so you can do that?’”
The following day, claims Kaseberg, O’Brien told the following joke in his monologue: “Big news in sports. University of Alabama-Birmingham has decided to discontinue its football team. Yeah. When they heard the news, New York Jets fans said, ‘Wait you can do that? It’s something you can do?’”
On Friday, a judge dimissed two of the jokes in question, but ruled that the case will move forward regarding the other three.
In a statement, Kaseberg’s lawyer called the judge’s ruling “a victory for comedy writers, especially lesser known writers.”
No date has yet been set for a trial, but a rep for O’Brien issued a statement insisting they expect to be “fully vindicated.”
“We are very pleased that the court has granted summary judgment and dismissed two of the jokes at issue,” says a rep for O’Brien in a statement, following the judge’s ruling. “We can’t comment further on pending litigation, but we are extremely confident that once the facts are presented to a jury, we will be fully vindicated.”