Comedy vs. The Fat Jew
The day of reckoning has finally arrived for joke plagiarist Josh Ostrovsky AKA “The Fat Jew.” If you’re not familiar with Ostrovsky, he’s an extremely popular Instagram and Twitter user known for stealing comedians’ work by posting screenshots of their jokes with credit cropped out (here are just a few examples), and he’s inexplicably been rewarded for his years of thievery through big-brand sponsorships, a book deal with Hachette, a Comedy Central script in development, a modeling contract, a line of rosé wine, and most recently getting signed to Creative Artists Agency.
The news of Ostrovsky signing to CAA broke on Thursday, which prompted Someecards writer Maura Quint to write a PSA about Ostrovsky’s well-documented plagiarism on Saturday that quickly went viral:
— (maura) (@behindyourback) August 15, 2015
Since Quint’s post, tons of comedians have chimed in against Ostrovsky on Twitter. Here’s just a portion of the backlash:
To me, what makes @fatjew so funny aren’t the stolen jokes he posts, but THE WAY he posts them.
— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) August 16, 2015
Now I kinda feel bad because @FATJEW didn’t steal from me. I gotta step up my instagram game
— Paul Scheer (@paulscheer) August 16, 2015
— Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) August 16, 2015
I think that despite whatever joke stealing or what have you we can all agree that The Fat Jew has a cool hairstyle that is extremely cool
— Julie Klausner (@julieklausner) August 17, 2015
i would complain about the fat jew but i don’t want people to think i’m unsuccessful — Megan Neuringer (@MeganNeuringer) August 17, 2015
“It was easier for us to reward the Fat Jew than all of the unique, funny, hardworking people that comprise him” – the industry.
— Mike Lawrence (@TheMikeLawrence) August 15, 2015
Patton Oswalt also sent a string of tweets poking fun at the argument that Ostrovsky doesn’t blatantly steal but “aggregates,” which is the term The Hollywood Reporter used in the news post about him getting signed to CAA:
My favorite Jane’s Addiction song is “Been Caught Aggregating.” — Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) August 15, 2015
Always chokes me up in “Purple Rain” when Prince sings, “Baby I could never aggregate you from another…”
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) August 15, 2015
Some people also called out Comedy Central for the pilot they reportedly put into development by Ostrovsky:
— Jeremy Wein (@thismyshow) August 15, 2015
The most appropriate title for @FATJEW‘s upcoming Comedy Central show is ‘Mind of Mencia,’ because talentless minds steal alike.
— Nick Youssef (@NickYoussef) August 15, 2015
— geoff tate (@geofftate96) August 16, 2015
Comedy Central exec reading Fat Jew’s script: “This is just a word-for-word transcription of the ‘Frasier’ pilot!!” Fat Jew: “And…?”
— Eli Braden (@EliBraden) August 17, 2015
Ostrovsky has not yet responded to the backlash, but he has continued to post uncredited screenshots of jokes on Instagram to his 5.7 million followers. It’s too soon to tell whether this will have any real effect on his success or ability to profit from stolen work, but we can probably count on the calm, cool, collected wisdom Andy Richter offers here:
Relax. So some turd got repped by CAA. He’s not taking anyone’s spot. Seen many fakes get elevated & when they can’t deliver they go away — Andy Richter (@AndyRichter) August 16, 2015
And he’s already right: We reached out to Comedy Central to ask about the status of Ostrovsky’s pilot, and a rep confirmed with us that the network no longer has a project in development with him. That doesn’t fix the countless jokes Ostrovsky has and continues to poach for profit, but hopefully Comedy Central is the first of many big companies that decide not to work with him or pay him $2,500 for a sponsored Instagram post.
Here’s a Storify by Kevin Kelly that rounds up a whole boatload of examples of clear plagiarism from the Fat Jew: