Everyone had a good time at GS Class Day. There was a brass band, there was a Korean pop star, and there was a Valedictorian named Brian Corman who made a speech. This was not an unusual thing for a Valedictorian to do, but Mr. Corman did something out of the ordinary: he stole a joke, just about word for word, from comedian Patton Oswalt. Corman inserted it into his speech as if that very anecdote had happened to him. Whoops!
Bwog really wishes we could relay the joke to you, but as soon as we signed on YouTube to find the video of GS Commencement, we found that the video had become private. We hear from the lucky few who got a look at the video before it was taken down that the joke centered around a scene in a Physics for Poets class, in which a GS student challenged a question on the exam, showing that GS students always think they’re right because they are always right. Watch Oswalt’s original version of the joke here.
A scan of Oswalt’s Facebook page reveals he is none-too-pleased. “Jesus fucking CHRIST,” he writes in response to a link showing Corman’s bit, “Again?” Oswalt is now figuring out how to get the snippet of video with Corman’s joke back so he can send it to the “several big media outlets” that are asking him for it. You read it here first, folks!
A final piece of advice for our readers: if you’re going to steal comedy bits, don’t steal from living comedians who use the Internet a lot. Steal from Milton Berle, he never tweets! A few pieces of evidence below, we’ll update you as events unfold.
Update, 1:30: And Columbia has put the video back up on YouTube! Scroll to 33:56 for Corman’s speech, and indulge in the barrage of comments. Columbia has added a meaty disclaimer to the video:
It has come to our attention that a portion of our Valedictorians address at this years Columbia University School of General Studies Class Day was taken from a comedy routine by Patton Oswalt. Until today we were unaware of this conflict, and as an institution of higher learning that upholds the highest standards of respect for the works of others, we are deeply distressed that this has occurred. Columbia University and the School of General Studies do not condone the use of someone elses work without proper attribution. Mr. Corman has issued an apology to Patton Oswalt. — School of General Studies, May 25, 2010
Update, 4 PM: Dean of GS and Bwog Hero Peter Awn has issued the following statement about the debacle:
It has come to our attention that a portion of our Valedictorian’s remarks at this year’s School of General Studies Class Day was taken from a comedy routine by Patton Oswalt. As an institution of higher learning that places a core value on respect for the works of others, we were surprised and disappointed to have learned of this matter today. Columbia University and the School of General Studies do not condone or permit the use of someone else’s work without proper citation. The student speaker has appropriately issued an apology to his classmates and to Mr. Oswalt for failing to provide such attribution.
If you’re in GS, send along that apology right quick using our tip form.
Corman has also apologized directly to Oswalt, which the comedian related in a blog post on his website that he titled “Sloppy and Desperate.” Still, Oswalt writes that Corman “owned it all.”
Update, 5/26 2PM: Corman’s email to his GS ’10 classmates:
I would like to apologize to the Senior Class for my actions on Class Day. As many of you know, I used one of Patton Oswalt’s jokes in my speech (the one about the Physics for Poets class). I sent an apology to Mr. Oswalt yesterday, and he has responded on his website. My intention was to have a funny story amidst the more serious parts of the speech to get a few laughs, and I was completely in the wrong for thinking that it was OK for me to take his story and make it my own. I am extremely sorry to the GS Senior Class for betraying their trust and embarrassing the school, and please know that I never meant to harm anyone by this.
My sincerest apologies,