Lewis Black Says Robin Williams Unintentionally Plagiarized His Act

Lewis Black Says Robin Williams Unintentionally Plagiarized His Act

Apparently, Robin Williams accidentally stole a couple lines from Lewis Black when they performed stand-up together – now I want to see Black’s take on the genie in Aladdin.

The perpetually grumpy political comic is currently gearing up for a few shows in Ireland, and, in advance of the Emerald Isle tour leg, he took a moment to reflect on his half-century career – and, of course, apologize to the international community for some of the recent actions of his domestic government. In an interview with Dublin People, the Daily Show veteran discussed his admiration for Irish comedy (and healthcare), and shared a story from the early days related to a certain leprechaun-esque stand-up who provided potfuls of comedy gold.

According to Black, Williams’ fast-paced, stream-of-consciousness comedy jet engine had a tendency to suck up some of the surrounding comics’ material and spit it out during his own set. If we ever find a video of Williams screaming about Dick Cheney until his throat bleeds, we’ll know who to properly credit.

“He was like a firework on stage,” Black said about his old friend and colleague. “It was like watching a great fireworks display, he could go from one subject to another, could connect things that no sane person could possibly connect, and the way his mind could just flash was extraordinary to watch.”

Black says that, back in the day, Williams had a bit of a reputation for a bad comedy habit – specifically, comics knew him to repeat other people’s jokes during sets. Black explained, “Some people would say that Robin Williams would steal from people, and I happened to be working with him. One night he was on stage, he did a bit of mine, it was three lines or whatever, and my friend Kathleen Madigan pointed it out to him.”

Joke-stealing is no small charge in the comedy community – however, Black believes that Williams’ punchline pickpocketing was completely inadvertent. “He was in shock because so much went into his brain that I don’t think he was conscious of it,” Black said of Williams. “He went at the speed of light, and there was no other comic like him, apart from maybe Richard Pryor.”

“The man was an absolute sweetheart,” Black said to finish his thoughts on Williams. “He went out of his way to help support young comics, much like how George Carlin was.” Despite claiming that Williams took one of his jokes, Black somehow never admitted to borrowing late-career Carlin’s entire act.

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