I remember watching an old Roscoe Arbuckle film “The Rough House” when I noticed this scene:

At first I thought he was was mocking the dinner roll dance done by Chaplin in “The Gold Rush” If you watch it that way, it’s kind of funny. But then I realized “The Gold Rush” was made after Arbuckle was no longer making movies. Arbuckle had done this bit first. For comparison sake, here is the Chaplin performance.

Clearly, Chaplin’s version better. It is also more of a centerpiece, while Arbuckle’s is a bit of a throwaway. But it goes to show, even the famous Chaplin was not above appropriating material. Making dinner rolls dance may have been a common gag for all I know. The point is, he took the idea and added enough to it to make it his own. He built it up into something special. That’s a good thing. It’s not a rip off. That’s how art grows. Keep your eyes open for small ideas that you can build on.

2 thoughts on “Rip-off?

  1. So what would you call George Carlin’s celebrated bit, “Seven Words You Can’t Say On TV”? His seven words repeat the words and order of Lenny Bruce’s comment that he’d been arrested for saying.

    • Interesting question. According to Wikipedia, Lenny Bruce had 9 words, rather than 7, and delivered them in alphabetical order. Carlin’s order seems based on the lubricating the speedy delivery that was part of the fun. Both Men were arrested for public performance of the words.

      Clearly, nobody owns “dirty words”. Had Carlin copied the joke verbatim, it would reflect badly on him for sure. If I could find a recording of Bruce doing the bit, I could have a more informed opinion. I understand jokes can be a valuable commodity.

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