Rabat – Moroccan comedian Gad Elmalah has again responded to the plagiarism accusations that have been plaguing him recently. In an interview with daily French newspaper Le Parisien, Elmaleh said that the accusations are partly true, but have been blown out of proportion.
“Oh, I was inspired by other guys, yes, I admit that. That’s when the stand-up came, with my generation, we were inspired by the Americans, … ” he said.
“Perhaps I have been at ease, taking inspiration from the techniques and punchlines of Americans,” he admitted. “I took inspiration from them. OK, alright. What do I have to do? Is there a confessional for comedians?”
“1 minute and 30 seconds of my show of the 20 or 30 hours of shows that I have done in my life does not summarize my career,” he insisted.
He went on to say that the accusations that have been lobbied against him are “very aggressive, excessive and out of proportion to what is true. There was a base of aggressiveness, a desire to harm.”
“Nobody wants to be displayed in the press as someone who has stolen,” he said.
A year of accusations piling up
The accusations were first thrown at Elmaleh by YouTube channel CopyComic, which exposes plagiarism. The channel targeted Elmaleh multiple times this year, and on July 9, the comedian also took to the media to defend himself.
Speaking to TV channel Europe 1, the comedian said: “I started my career in 1995 with a sketch called ”Monsieur Seguin’s Goat,” it was a parody. I do not know who wrote it (laughs) but it was my vision,” the comedian said, yet again partially admitting “inspiration” was taken but stipulating that he added his own twist.
Just two days after Elmaleh’s TV appearance to defend himself, on Thursday, July 11, French paper “Society” published a possibly damning article revealing the full extent of his supposed plagiarism. Society sought the testimonies of other comedians whose work Elmaleh may have pilfered.
One of these comedians, who chose to remain anonymous and is described by Society as a “renowned humorist,” said that he already had seen two of his sketches stolen by Elmaleh, before a third was revealed by CopyComic.
Marseille-based comedian Kamel Bennafla also came forward to claim that one of Elmaleh’s most famous skit characters, “The Blonde,” a goody-two-shoes who does everything right, was actually his idea.
Bennafla alleges that two met at the Festival d’Avignon in the late 1990s when he was “already a star” and Elmaleh “was still a young comedian.” The two then appeared together on the radio show Europe 2 Avignon, where Bennafla told the story of “a nice blond kid, who does everything well and ridicules others” as part of a skit.
Bennafla alleges that after the show, Elmaleh asked him for the tape so he could use it “to practice his budding comedy skills.”
“Now, when I perform the sketch I thought of a decade ago, people tell me Elmaleh invented it first. I immediately understood how this happened,” said Bennafla.
Elmaleh’s rise to fame
Elmaleh was born in Casablanca to a Jewish family and attended high school in Quebec. At the age of 21, Elmaleh moved to Paris to pursue his dream of acting. The 47-year-old comedian performed comedy in France for over 23 years and gained wide fame there.
The stand-up comedian and actor has starred in several feature films, including “Coco” (2008), “Priceless” (2006), and “La Doublure” (2005). He was voted the “funniest person” in France, and France’s Minister of Culture named him Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters. Elmaleh also became a Knight of the National Order of Quebec.
The French-Moroccan’s career skyrocketed even further in recent years, with his own Netflix original show, “Huge in France,” having premiered in April.
It remains to be seen whether the allegations will have a longstanding effect on his career.