Amy Schumer Says She Will Take a Polygraph to Prove She Didn't "Steal" Jokes

Austin Hargrave
Amy Schumer

"I would never, ever do that and I never have," says the 'Trainwreck' writer-star and Comedy Central comedian. "I will literally take a polygraph."

Amy Schumer is setting the record straight.

"I'm being accused of stealing jokes and I wanted to come and talk to you about it and clear my name," she told fellow comedian Jim Norton on his SiriusXM advice show Wednesday.

This week, three comedians — Wendy Liebman, Kathleen Madigan and Tammy Pescatelli — took to Twitter to discuss alleged similarities between their jokes and ones that Schumer has used in her Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer, and movie, Trainwreck. The thread was quickly deleted off social media, but the conversation had drawn enough heat that Schumer wanted to clear the air, and even offer up some proof.

This isn't the first time Schumer has been hit with these types of claims. In October, critics brought up alleged similarities between material by the late comedian Patrice O'Neal and jokes on Schumer's HBO special, Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo. Both bits described a series of increasingly outrageous sex acts with catchy names like "The Poltergeist."

"I would never, ever do that and I never have," Schumer told Norton. "I'm literally going to take a polygraph test and put it on my show this season, and I promise, whatever the results are — I won't let them cut — I will show that I had never, never seen Patrice do that bit. I had definitely never seen Tammy Pescatelli do that." 

The Twitter conversation began when Liebman noted apparent similarities between a joke she told in the '90s and one Schumer used in her HBO special. Pescatelli then jumped in, comparing her joke from a 2006 stand-up special to a line in Trainwreck and a routine by Madigan, where she joked about Oprah Winfrey being so rich that she could hire people to slap food out of her hands and train her while laying down, to the Inside Amy Schumer sketches "Slap Chef" and "Sleep Gym." Shortly after, a video comparing Schumer's jokes to those made by other comedians began making the rounds. Liebman later deleted the thread and tweeted, "It's all good." 

"I didn't happen to catch [Pescatelli's] 2006 Comedy Central special and like, sit on that bit until I got a movie," Schumer told Norton. "Both Kathleen and Wendy believe me, they know me and they don't believe I would do that."

In the interview, Schumer praised both Madigan and Liebman, but stressed that she had never seen their past specials in question. "I love Wendy Liebman, she's one of my heroes," said Schumer. "I have to come up with so much material — my TV show, this movie, standup, specials — and I'm so careful. And none of these things had ever reached me. And I will literally take a polygraph. And I just would never do that, like that would be so stupid for me to do that!"

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Liebman said: "I'm a huge Amy Schumer fan. She's always been generous telling the press that I'm one of her influences. And she's been so nice to me in person. So I want to believe that someone sold her my joke.

"But if not, I've written jokes that I found out later were similar to jokes written by Phyllis Diller ('My Grandmother said the secret to a successful marriage is don't go to sleep angry. She's been awake since 1936'), Margaret Smith ('It's that time of the month — rent') and Steve Martin ('My boyfriend put me on a pedestal — so he could look up my skirt'). And I'm sure there are more. I get it — there are only so many ideas."

She continued, "I doubt she intentionally took it but I wanted to at least claim what was originally mine."

On Wednesday after the interview aired, Liebman took to Twitter to respond to a fan and seemed to be burying the hatchet. "I think both @amyschumer and I like it when a man pays...for sex. #greatminds #parallelthinking," she wrote.

Listen to Schumer's full interview below:

comments powered by Disqus