The biggest beefs among comedians

Comedy beefs are no laughing matter. The performers who bring us to hysterical tears can actually be a cutthroat bunch who steal each other's work, trash each other in the press, and even, in some rare cases, come to blows. Saturday Night Live produced a number of such beefs, with former cast members bickering relentlessly during the 40-plus year history of the show. 

Elsewhere in the world of jokes, several stand-up comics have duked it out over allegations of stolen material, like Joe Rogan and Carlos Mencia's infamous on-stage 2007 feud, and Louis C.K.'s similar spats with Dennis Leary and Dane Cook, the latter of which even inspired an episode of C.K.'s FX series. While a number of these feuds ended with the passage of time — nearly 30 years for Wayne and Garth — some seem to be in it for the long haul (Don't expect to see David Cross and Larry the Cable Guy doing a festival tour together). 

What do you get when you combine a couple comedians and a little animosity? You get beef. Bad jokes aside, let's take a look at some of the biggest beefs among comedians. 

Buds for life? Not quite

When Chevy Chase abruptly left Saturday Night Live at the end of the second season to pursue a movie career, a number of his cast mates were understandably bitter. Bill Murray, the up-and-coming comedian and Chase's replacement on SNL, expressed his displeasure with Chase when he returned to host a few seasons later.

Tensions built throughout the week between the entire cast and Chase, with Murray setting off a shouting match followed later by a physical altercation just before the show went live. Chase confronted Murray in Jim Belushi's dressing room and the two threw punches, but were quickly pulled apart according to Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live

Less than two years later, Chase and Murray buried the hatchet on the set of Caddyshack. According to Chris Nashawaty's book Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story, Murray said, "We didn't do many takes. Just two or three. I'd never really done anything with Chevy. We'd always had a sort of a ... funny relationship. But it was like, 'OK, I liked that when you did that. Let's just keep going.'"

Decades after the backstage spat, Murray downplayed the whole thing to Empire Online, saying, "It was really a Hollywood fight, a 'Don't touch my face!' kind of thing ... we all felt mad he had left us, and somehow I was the anointed avenging angel ... But Chevy and I are friends now. It's all fine."

Joe Rogan calls out Carlos 'Menstealia'

Joe Rogan and Carlos Mencia didn't come to blows in 2007, but their on-stage fight over Mencia's alleged joke theft still stunned The Comedy Store audience. Per the Times Herald-Record, it started when Rogan called Mencia "Menstealia," effectively accusing Mencia in public of plagiarizing multiple comics. Mencia then stormed the stage and confronted Rogan. Their colorful exchange was all caught on video, and had a profound effect on both comics' careers.

Rogan was banned from The Comedy Store and was subsequently dropped by his agency after refusing to apologize to Mencia. But Rogan eventually emerged from the fracas unscathed. A longtime UFC announcer, actor and reality show host, Rogan went on to launch a successful podcast. He even returned to The Comedy Store after seven years away. 

For Mencia, the backlash was far more severe. After video of the showdown with Rogan went viral, Mencia was quickly labeled a joke-stealer. Less than a year later his hit Comedy Central show Mind of Mencia was over. However, Mencia characterized his exit from the show and subsequent absence from the spotlight as a self-imposed exile (per NJ.com). He also told the outlet he "never had beef with [Rogan], he had beef with me." As far as whether he ever owned up to stealing jokes, the truth lies somewhere between his 2010 admission of "F**k yeah ... of course I f***ing steal jokes," to his 2017 denial in which he said "None of [my accusers] have proof." 

Did Louis C.K. let Dane Cook get publicly roasted?

Dane Cook was one of the most popular comics on the planet in the mid-2000's, but accusations of joke stealing by Louis C.K. helped send Cook's career on a downward spiral.

According to Vulture, Cook was widely accused of ripping off a trio of jokes from C.K.'s 2001 Live in Houston for his 2005 hit album, Retaliation. Although C.K. never outright accused Cook of theft, he didn't exactly defend him, instead telling Movieline (per Vulture) that Cook probably saw his bit and subconsciously made it his own. The joke theft claims contributed to an overall decline in Cook's popularity, according to The Hollywood Reporter. As for how Cook felt about C.K. allowing the accusations to persist? "I think he knew that he could be more popular talking about why I shouldn't be popular," Cook said, adding, "It helped him, it really did. It was like he was on a press tour because of it."

The two attempted to bury the hatchet in 2011 by filming a scene about the issue for C.K.'s FX series Louie. "For him to call and say, 'Let's put this thing to rest,' I was like, 'Yeah, amen. Please,'" Cook told Entertainment Weekly.

Cook didn't have much to say when C.K. was accused of sexual misconduct in 2017, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, Cook's "C.K./karma joke" during his 2019 comedy tour suggests this beef isn't quite bygones being bygones.

Party Time was not excellent for Wayne and Garth

It's hard to think of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as anything but two long-haired best friends, but beef supposedly ensued after the making of Wayne's World in 1992, leading to an alleged estrangement, punctuated with only a few, rare joint public appearances.

According to Rolling Stone, Myers became unhappy with director Penelope Spheeris, and tightened his creative control over the characters, which may not have sat well with Carvey. After the sequel, Myers and Carvey reportedly "barely spoke," and things allegedly escalated into further silence when Myers unveiled his Dr. Evil character in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery a few years later. This speculation was due to Carvey's strikingly similar Lorne Michaels impression from their days on Saturday Night Live, however, Carvey downplayed any notion of a feud over it. 

"When I saw Mike do it, I did kind of go, hmm," Carvey told The Howard Stern Show in 2016, but he added, "We were never meant to be a comedy team. Mike just invited me into the sketch. But you know, I'm really grateful that he did."

Carvey and Myers reunited at the 2019 Academy Awards to introduce Bohemian Rhapsody for Best Picture, with Myers reportedly saying on the red carpet he had "so much fun" with his old friend during rehearsals. Could that long-rumored Wayne's World 3 be on the horizon?

Just a couple of A-holes

Denis Leary has been accused of stealing jokes before, but Louis C.K. had some beef of his own with Leary, claiming that he swiped a bit and turned it into the 1994 song "A**hole."

The song propelled Leary to stardom, but C.K. claimed in 2008 on The Opie and Anthony Show that Leary "stole [the] bit" the song was based on from him. "He started riffing on my bit, but acknowledging that he just watched me do it, which I think is okay," C.K. said on the program. "A month later ... he's just doing the bit." Years after the song was a hit, Leary sent "several thousand dollars" to C.K. to help finance a film, which C.K. later viewed as a payoff. C.K. did, however, say that Leary was "always generally kind" to him, and that he never said anything before being prompted by the shock jocks to talk about it, because it would have felt hypocritical.

Days later, on the same show, Leary shot back, "Louis, by the way, the money I gave you to make that movie was not guilt money. I had no idea you thought I stole your material. I actually believed in you as a filmmaker. Period."

The two buried the hatchet in 2015, according to Leary, who told the Daily Beast, "The more famous all of us got, the grudges fell off to the side."

Lovitz deals with some Dick-ish behavior

Andy Dick has certainly ruffled a few feathers with his outrageous behavior through the years, but his comments about the death of Phil Hartman earned him a beatdown from fellow funnyman, Jon Lovitz.

It all started when Lovitz replaced Phil Hartman, his close friend, on NewsRadio in 1998 after Hartman was shot and killed in his sleep by his wife, Brynn, who then took her own life. Lovitz accused Dick of aiding Brynn's drug relapse after a decade of sobriety — she was reportedly on "cocaine, alcohol and an anti-depressant" (per CNN) on the day of the grisly murder suicide. "Later on [Dick and I] made up," Lovitz told Dennis Miller (per CBS News). "I realized it really wasn't his fault. Everything was fine for years." Then it wasn't. 

During a visit to Lovitz's restaurant in 2006, Dick told Lovitz, "I put the Phil Hartman hex on you, you're the next one to die." Lovitz then tossed Dick and company out. A year later, their paths crossed again at The Laugh Factory. After seeking out Dick in the bar area and failing to get an apology, Lovitz erupted. "Jon picked Andy up by the head and smashed him into the bar four or five times, and blood started pouring out of his nose," Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada told Page Six.

Dick has never publicly commented on the fight, but Lovitz's characterization of him as "a disgusting human being" doesn't indicate hope for a reconciliation.

Feuds brew at SNL

Norm MacDonald is a tell-you-to-your-face kind of guy, but his comments about fellow Saturday Night Live actor Chris Kattan set off a bitter feud between the two. "I don't find him funny ... never made me laugh," MacDonald told Rolling Stone in 1997. He also doled out some homophobic commentary, to which, not surprisingly, Kattan didn't take kindly. "If Norm says I'm gay, then put in that I say he's an a**hole," Kattan told the mag. 

MacDonald was famous, or infamous, for being merciless when he found a soft spot. "Norm would rip [Mr. Kattan] to his face," a source close to SNL told Observer. The feud got bad enough that when MacDonald returned to host in 1999, Kattan was noticeably absent from the episode. Kattan still had an axe to grind in 2015 when he accused MacDonald of physically and sexually abusing an assistant (per The Blaze). However, a few months later, Kattan tweeted that their "feud" was "satiric" and "only for comedic purposes."

Kattan ran into personal troubles post-SNL that likely stemmed from a broken neck he suffered during an SNL sketch. After multiple surgeries, he became addicted to opioids — a revelation made in his 2019 memoir Baby Don't Hurt Me. It's unclear where Kattan and MacDonald stand, as of this writing, but considering Kattan didn't slam Macdonald in the book, that's a pretty big clue. 

Bill Cosby plays morality police?

The feud between these two titans of comedy began when Bill Cosby allegedly tried to rein in Eddie Murphy's brand of vulgar humor.

Murphy took exception to Cosby's moral superiority in his explosive 1987 standup routine, Raw, unleashing a spot-on Cosby impression and a slew of curse words describing a conversation between the two. When Delaware Online asked Cosby about Murphy's infamous bit in 2007, Cosby called Murphy "a very nasty, nasty liar," and claimed he only called the younger comic to tell him to stop saying how much money he made on stage. The feud faded over time and died out during Cosby's failed fight against numerous accusations of sexual assault. He was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison in 2018. Amid the allegations, Murphy balked at playing Cosby during Saturday Night Live's 40th-anniversary special. "There's nothing funny about it. If you get up there and you crack jokes about [Cosby], you're just hurting people," Murphy told Vanity Fair in 2015.  In response to Murphy's decision, Cosby told NBC, "I am very appreciative of Eddie and I applaud his actions."

However, Murphy's moratorium on Cosby jokes ended a few months later. While accepting the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Murphy let loose on the sitcom star, dusting off his profanity-laced impression after nearly 30 years away from the stage. "Bill has one of these," Murphy said, looking at a bust of Mark Twain. "Did y'all make Bill give his back?"

The Queen of Mean goes raw

Joan Rivers certainly earned her moniker as the Queen of Mean, and she didn't hold back when talking about former E! colleague Chelsea Handler. But the younger comedian didn't exactly pull her punches. In the first of two back-to-back interviews with Howard Stern in January 2012, Handler said, "What the f**k do I care about Joan Rivers?" The next day, Rivers showed up to the shock jock's studio, countering with: "Number one, [Handler] made it on her back, f***ing the president [of the network], we all know that." She added, "Number two, she's fine, she's ordinary. She's not a genius." Shots. Fired.

A few years later, they were still swinging, with Handler telling The Guardian in June 2014 she didn't think of Rivers as a role model. One month later, Rivers told HuffPost that Handler started the whole thing. "She came out saying things like, 'I'm the first woman ever to do a late-night show,'" Rivers said, adding, "She did this one day, and I followed her on the dais and I said, 'I guess everyone's forgotten the Carson show.' She never spoke to me again."

Rivers died in September 2014 during a routine surgery, putting a tragic end to a beef that was surely far from over. However, in 2016, Handler gave Rivers a nod for paving the way for female comics. "Joan Rivers and I weren't friends," Handler said. "But she did definitely open so many doors for me."

Larry the Cable Guy in the Cross-hairs

This beef was one of the more personal, but it played out mostly through the written word.

Cross told Rolling Stone (per HuffPost) about Larry the Cable Guy's act, "It's a lot of anti-gay, racist humor — which people like in America — all couched in 'I'm telling it like it is.' He's in the right place at the right time for that gee-shucks, proud-to-be-a-redneck, I'm-just-a-straight-shooter-multi-millionaire-in-cutoff-flannel-selling-ring-tones act." Larry the Cable Guy dedicated a chapter in his 2006 book, "GIT-R-DONE," to say that he was being attacked by a member of the PC police that didn't know his audience and cited Cross as one of those "humorless comedians who act like they're better than everyone else."

The Arrested Development star hit back with an Open Letter to Larry the Cable Guy. "I do know your audience," Cross wrote, "and they suck. And they're simple. ... Since I was a kid I've always been a little oversensitive to the glorification and rewarding of the dumb."

Ouch. Safe to say these two won't be playing any of the same venues any time soon.