I don’t really think so, to be honest. However, last week he did do a bit that is virtually the EXACT same thing that we’ve been doing on The Mystery Hour for years. I should note that I think Jimmy Kimmel Live is a great show, and I’ve got nothing but respect for it.
Here are the bits. I’ll comment below.
First, here is ours that aired recently. We taped this on 9/6/13, it aired on 12/21/13, and we uploaded the full episode online on 1/20/14 (There is a large gap from taping to air due to a non-compete in the contract with our previous station). I just uploaded the clip from the full episode the other day.
Here is the Jimmy Kimmel version that aired 1/30/14:
So, here are the similarities:
-Man and a woman reading back and forth
-Hot woman (I give my wife the edge)
-Cheesy music interspersed (ours is a singer, their’s is a saxophonist. Although we have had an accordion player once before)
Some background. The Mystery Hour is a local late night talk show in Springfield, MO. I started it in 2006 as a live late night talk show at The Skinny Improv, where I also perform. It has run continuously since then (minus a year when I was living in LA). In 2012, we began weekly on TV on a local independent station where we ran for two seasons. In 2013, we moved to the local FOX affiliate.
We began doing Dramatic Readings of Craigslist Missed Connections in 2010 (or earlier, I’m not sure, but that is when we first uploaded a clip of it). It has always been a big hit because they are all real and so ridiculous. We’ve probably done it 7 times. You can imagine my surprise when I saw Jimmy Kimmel’s version that was strikingly similar to ours.
What doesn’t look good for Jimmy Kimmel:
-There is very little difference between the two.
-If you Google “Dramatic Reading of Craigslist Missed Connections,” our original (pre-televised) video is the first thing that comes up.
What does look good for Jimmy Kimmel:
-It’s not an entirely original idea, there are others out there. I don’t think we own it. It’s the late night talk show format that makes ours look so similar.
-It’s impossible to try to keep up with every idea out there. Comedy is all about having original ideas, and in the past you could have an original idea in Memphis, and someone else could have a similar original idea in San Diego, and the originators of those ideas would never cross paths. Now, we, the creators of comedic content, are supposed to be on top of every idea out there to make sure that we’re not copying. It’s an impossible task. I believe people can come up with the same idea independently. I’m sure we have stuff that, unbeknownst to us, is similar to someone else’s idea.
So, with that in mind, I give the folks at Jimmy Kimmel the benefit of the doubt. I don’t ultimately think they took it. They’re so similar that it’s plausible, but I don’t think so.
As my writers can attest, I am obsessed with not stealing bits, or doing bits that are reminiscent of national late night talk shows, because stealing is the cardinal sin in comedy, and also because we don’t want to be a crappy local version of a national late night talk show, that doesn’t have any ideas of our own.
The rule of thumb in comedy is that if you find out that someone else was doing that bit before you, you bow out and stop doing the bit. I’ve had to do that before. We’ve stopped doing a couple bits because other national late night talk shows started doing something very similar. But, this bit has been a staple for us. I wanted to write this post to show that we did actually do the bit before them. I want to keep doing the bit, so when people ask why I’m doing a bit that they do on Jimmy Kimmel, I can show them the proof in this post.
Or, I think a fair compromise would be for Jimmy to fly my wife and I out to do the Dramatic Readings of Craigslist Missed Connections on their show whenever they plan on doing it.
Here is our original pre-televised Dramatic Readings of Craigslist Missed Connections
Here is a link to our website: