The Fat Jew on Stealing Jokes: “I Have Never Done That”
It’s been a bad week for Josh Ostrovsky AKA “The Fat Jew” since the comedy community doubled down on exposing him as a hacky joke thief, and with the exception of a few more Instagram posts, he had yet to respond to the wrath of the internet until today. Vulture sat down with Ostrovsky for an interview regarding the accusations made against him, and…well, it’s an extremely weird read. Here’s Ostrovsky explaining his role as an expert internet curator near the beginning of the interview:
I’ve consistently maintained that I’m a commentator. I’m a curator. I’m at the forefront of what’s cool and what’s hot and what’s funny. It’s complicated in that some of the stuff is made by me, some of the stuff is submitted, some of the stuff is found. It’s a hodgepodge. In that Katie Couric interview, I talk about how some of it is being submitted by Ukrainian teenagers. But also, I do make original content all over the place. I made a video about teaching homeless people to take spin classes. I do rapper interviews. I’ve been sitting in hot tubs of guacamole for years. I like to think I’m a trusted voice of pop culture, and that people understand that this is a mix of things — some of it is me, some of it is just me talking about it.
He also promised to start properly attributing all posts going forward, but he completely denies intentionally cropping out credit in the past:
I have never done that. Not once. I want people to get credit for stuff. You have to understand that the internet is like this giant Jacuzzi of insanity, and it’s just filled with so much stuff. I would never take someone’s name off something. That’s not who I am or what I’m about.
Despite all the hot tubs of guacamole Ostrovsky has sat in, Vulture couldn’t get him to admit that he’s ever stolen a joke, despite all the proof to the contrary:
Do you think you’ve ever stolen a joke?
I mean, no, not intentionally. If something was heard and written down, then that’s probably what happened. I didn’t realize that if you don’t have a source for something, then you couldn’t necessarily post it. I don’t think that was always clear. I’m very on the cutting-edge of the internet. I’m up on a lot of the newest shit first. So, if I didn’t realize all this about attribution and sources, there are probably other people who also don’t. I’d like to set the standard. If I’m the person who has been made to realize that, then everybody else can follow.
Why didn’t Ostrovsky just credit his posts to begin with? Well, because “the platform had grown so much” and “everything was moving so fast” and he’s not claiming to be a comedian — he’s “a Renaissance man of pop culture” and “satirist” and “commentator” and “performance artist” who has an “army of interns” hunting the internet for funny memes and well, he’s too busy working on his line of rosé wine to keep tabs on whether or not his interns are plagiarizing jokes on his behalf. Had Twitter not turned against him last weekend, it’s highly unlikely that Ostrovsky would even consider crediting jokes — and really, at this point, it’s too little too late. He might claim that “social media in general — is just part of what I do. It’s not the focus,” but without his 5.7 million Instagram followers, he never would’ve gotten a book deal, TV script deal, rosé wine, or CAA agent. All of Ostrovsky’s success is traced back to his huge follower count on Instagram, and that’s something he racked up thanks to the work of others.
Photo credit: Ben Kulo