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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Comedian Daniel Tosh calls out ESPN for plagiarism… with a bit of his own

ESPN recently faced scrutiny for what appears to be a direct lift of a segment from a comedian’s show on Comedy Central.

ESPN recently began airing a new segment, titled “Awesome Video Segment,” and the very first one they produced reminded a lot of people of comedian Daniel Tosh’s segment called “Web Redemption” featured on his popular Comedy Central Show, Tosh.0. Tosh himself found the segment to be extremely similar, and decided to address the issue on his show.

While Tosh’s assessment of ESPN may be crude and immature to some people, when showing the comparisons between ESPN’s segment and his own, it becomes readily apparent that the two segments were similar well beyond coincidence.

On Tosh’s version of the feature, he finds an online video of someone doing something embarrassing or something that gets them injured or in trouble in some way, and interviews them about it and usually leads into a comedic bit where he asks them if they’re willing to, “give it another shot.”

ESPN’s first installment of their version of the feature looks nearly like an exact copy of Tosh’s. It opened with embarrassing video of someone doing something where they hurt themselves, moved next to an interview with the subject, which then led to the reporter offering up the exact question Tosh always asks: “Are you willing to give it another shot?”

The similarities between the two led Tosh to mock ESPN on his own show, parodying the popular “Sports Science” segment featured frequently on ESPNs flagship program, Sportscenter. Tosh, in his criticism of the network, isn’t shy in letting it be known what he thinks of them: “I’m fine with kids in high school or college plagiarizing, but once you work for a real network you should have some God damn self respect.”

The off-color remark resonated with some people around the Internet, with commentaries from the blogosphere claiming that Tosh has “ethered” ESPN or “goes off on ESPN for stealing his segment.”

While numerous outlets have reported the story, ESPN has since commented on the matter, telling TMZ Sports:

This was more of an instance of us using a common phrase than it was copying his wording. We know that doesn’t sound like the strongest explanation yet it’s the truth. We are looking forward to ‘giving it another shot’ in future installments of ‘The Awesome Video Segment.’

ESPN has continued the “Awesome Video Segment,” though it looks very different from the very first one cited in Tosh’s criticism. Their second segment recaps a touchdown scored by a massive lineman in a recent college football game, which as any football fan knows, rarely happens. It seems that ESPN is trying its hardest to distance itself from the first segment of the “Awesome Video Segment,” as the video of it cannot be found on ESPNs website, unlike the second segment.

There is no denying the similarities between the two segments. While Tosh has no real legitimate claim over the content and format or his segment, to mst viewers it looks like ESPN borrowed heavily from the comedian’s work. ESPN assertion that the similarities may have just happened by coincidence rings hollow.

The combination of the fact that the structure of “Awesome Video Segment” was changed heavily from the first segment to the second, as well as the fact that the video seemingly doesn’t exist on any ESPN-related platform online, seem to suggest that the first video would like to be forgotten. We’ll have to see if ESPN does seemingly ‘give it another shot,’ and borrow from Tosh in the future.

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