You can take a man’s food from the communal office fridge, you can even take his parking space — but when it comes to Billy Eichner, things have gone too far when you take a man’s intellectual property.
The “Billy on the Street” host took to Twitter Friday (June 17), launching a tirade against former “Tonight Show” star Ross “The Intern” Mathews while accusing him of stealing his format for a credit card commercial. When Mathews responded by defending himself, it escalated very quickly.
“Yet another Billy on the Street ripoff,” Eichner tweeted, linking to Mathews’ Capital One ad and clearly sensitive to the imitators that have followed his “Street” show, launched on Funny or Die in 2011 and now airing on Comedy Central. “I usually ignore but this one is shameless and pathetic. (And not funny).”
Mathews, who got his start alongside Jay Leno in 2001, rose to fame while similarly getting silly with people in public. “@billyeichner accuses me of stealing man on the street segments from him,” he tweets back with an emoji blowing a kiss. “I started doing it on TV 15 years ago. Do the math.”
According to Eichner, Mathews is doing far more than “man on the street” material. While Mathews contends he couldn’t be stealing from “Billy on the Street” because he’s never seen it.
But wait, because the plot thickens: After someone asked Eichner why Capital One would rip him off rather than simply hiring him to do the ad, the comedian tweeted back that the credit card company had in fact approached him — but when his asking price was too high, they settled on Mathews instead.
With all this going down in less than an hour, Eichner seems determined to put a halt to the train before things derail. “Life is short,” he tweets. “And I will not be getting into a Twitter feud with Ross the Intern of all people.”
At the moment, it seems like a lot more than just people walking down the street are being accosted. Whether these two ever meet on the street remains to be seen, but for now fan reaction can probably best be summed up by a video clip posted by New York Times reporter David Itzkoff in response.