You can see the case for Sammy's plagiarism, if you're curious, in visual format at the Borrowing Sam Tumblr. For example:
I don't doubt that Prodigal Sam steals jokes, with awareness or not with awareness, given the body of evidence against him. I'm not about to defend him; if anything I'd suggest he steal funnier jokes. But they made two sequels to The Hangover, I'm not the barometer of comedy in America. I just want to talk around the topic a little bit, so here are some thoughts.
* There's a bit in this Salon piece about the ethics of self-plagiarism: Is it OK to reuse the same joke formats or even just rerun the same jokes? See this example where he keeps tweeting variations on "Just realized ducks can't hug and now I can't sleep" (inserting different animals). I mean, first of all, ducks can hug:
Which is why this isn't a funny joke. (And does Nickelback even have a Greatest Hits album?) But in principle, I'm not against self-plagiarism, which, when you're aware of it, is really more of a form of self-reference, and a kind of inside joke for your longtime followers, if we're talking about Twitter. I like when poets do this too, reusing the same lines in new contexts, sometimes with slight variations. I actually tell students to do this, because often they are able to write great lines before they are able to write great poems. That's why you have to save your darlings! I.e. rescue them and put them in new poems. I do this in my poems and I do it on Twitter too. For a while I kept tweeting new variations/translations of the (in)famous Rilke line "You must change your life," e.g. "You should change your life," "You gotsta change your life," etc. I wasn't doing it in the hopes that people hadn't seen my previous tweets; it's a better gag if they had seen them. Similarly, Sammy Rhodes' animal hug tweets are actually funnier if you think of them as meta-jokes or anti-jokes. I don't know if he intended them that way of course; maybe he's too sincere for that. (His avatar has New Sincerity written all over it!)
* I feel like you could make a case that almost anyone has plagiarized a bunch of their tweets, consciously or not consciously. A couple of weeks ago I was blabbing on Twitter about the silliness of user reviews for books on Goodreads and Amazon (as expanded on here); this was part of the tirade:
Oh no, this person I've never heard of thought this feminist critique was boring! REMOVE FROM CART
— Elisa Gabbert (@egabbert) May 20, 2013
Today, Teju Cole tweeted something quite similar – about as similar as Sammy R's jokes are to some of their alleged predecessors, anyway:
I almost read the Iliad, but someone on Amazon warned me off.
— Teju Cole (@tejucole) June 5, 2013
Notice that TC's version got wayyyy more favorites! Anyway, it's possible that he saw my earlier tweet, because he does follow me (cough, humblebrag), but I don't think he did, and even if he did, I wouldn't care that he was "borrowing" the format, probably unintentionally. I mean, he was responding to a real Amazon review! ("The Odyssey was a much better book. Skip this one if you can, you get a good summary of it in the Odyssey, it'll save you some time.") And I'm sure someone or several someones thought/tweeted the same thing about some other book before me. Thoughts, especially when limited to 140 characters, come in templates and tend to have a lot of overlap, both structurally and content-wise. Does that make it OK to knowingly steal from people and try to pass their work off as your own? No, of course not, I'm just pointing out that what superficially looks like plagiarism could easily not be.
* I remember there being a controversy when Last Orders by Graham Swift won the Booker Prize. Someone accused him of plagiarizing As I Lay Dying. Almost 20 years later I'm still astounded by the stupidity of this. It's very obviously an homage, a book-length reference to the Faulkner, an update of the story using the same form and characters. You can read and it enjoy it without knowing that, but crying "plagiarism" here is like saying Clueless plagiarized Emma. Again, I'm not saying that Sammy Rhodes' Twitter feed is full of sophisticated allusions. I never followed him but from the examples I've seen I doubt it. However, when you've got a culture that is trigger-happy when it comes to accusations of plagiarism, it's easy to miss nuance and subtlety on the level of reference/homage/pastiche. People seem especially doltish about this stuff on Twitter; see all the people who missed the barn-sized irony in the Iliad tweet above.
@tejucole it's worth it. One of the quintessential war poems/narratives that we have.* For more laughs, I recommend the 3-star reviews of Hamlet on Amazon, where you'll find such scintillating criticism as "It is Hamlet, what can you say. It is what it is" and "the play, as plays go, is simply just so-so."
— Terry Adams (@cterryadams) June 5, 2013