GLASGOW—Scots comic Janey Godley is none-too-impressed with her country’s other national drink (Irn Bru) after the soft drinks company allegedly used one of her lines in their latest advert without crediting her, according to the Glaswegian comic.
By Stephanie Meyer with Stephen Hamilton
Godley, a professional comedian with many years‘ service in the comedy business, auditioned for a role in the new Irn Bru advert where the main character in the sketch finds himself in an awkward situation; innocently exposing his rear-end in front of unsuspecting female train passengers.
As the young man enjoys a quiet moment sitting on the toilet pan; the door slides open to reveal his trousers at half-mast, basking in a solitude moment of boys‘ room reflection. As he reaches to close the door to hide his embarrassment he clumsily falls over exposing his backside in full view of the young ladies.
To the rescue comes a drinks assistant who hands him a can of Irn Irn Bru. With just one sip he quickly and confidently turns into a young stallion and winks to the two beauties using the Frankie Boy-like (Frank McAvennie) character — developed by Jonathon Watson — as he winks and says, “Ladies.”
The cheeky lines continue to appear in the advert as the drinks assistant encourages the young man with a “Bottoms up,” before a train passenger arrives on the scene with his bicycle asking where he can park his bike.
The advert uses at least three well-known pieces of material known from other sources, according to many we spoke to.
The Frank McAvennie character is instantly recognizable; not with the wording as such but in how the word “Ladies” is expressed. “There is just too much of a likeness to Jonathan Watson’s Frankie Boy character,” said Dafty News reader Karen Simpson.
David in Glasgow added: “The only thing missing is the Frankie Boy wig and bucked teeth. Otherwise Jonathan Watson might have had a case there.”
The second is a reference to a joke made famous by Billy Connolly (somewhere to park my bike). That line, according to folklore, was not Connolly’s line but when you see the original footage of that joke he does state the fact with absolute clarity with, ‘a guy came up to me in the street and said..,’ before delivering the joke.
The two aforementioned don’t breech but if anything the writers of the advert haven’t exactly shown originality.
It is when the advert comes to a close with the line, “Crack on,” used to give the passenger with the bike the freedom to park his wheel, that has caused a bit of a stir. If the two lines earlier have come under scrutiny then the lack of originality heats up.
Janey Godley claims she ad-libbed “crack on”, which was then used in the advert. Janey is hardly a daft wee lassie, as they say around her parts. Janey Godley is a long-standing stand-up comedian with a track record. She’s mature and knows her way around the block. So, when she lays claim to her allegations a very large and successful company used her line without even as much as a free can of Irn Bru for her troubles; you better believe she has proof of such to back her stance.
Janey date-stamped her line on social media and no doubt she has kept other records close to her possession but what can she do about her claims Irn Bru used her line without credit?
Watch Irn Bru advert
We spoke to someone who knows a thing or two about situations like Janey’s.
Stephanie Meyer said: “Irn Bru have actually used four lines in their advert. ‘Bottoms up‘, followed by ‘Ladies’, ‘Park my bike’, then ‘Crack on’.
The first one is generic and would be very difficult to pin that line to one particular source. It’s fair to say we can eliminate that line.
The similarities to Frank McAvennie’s parody character is instantly recognizable to those who know the character but it’s a diluted effort.
‘Park my bike’, isn’t Billy Connolly’s line as such so they (Irn Bru) haven’t stolen it. They have merely adapted an old line and incorporated it into their sketch. Such is the nature of that punchline Irn Bru haven’t been able to update it and attached it differently. Parking a bike between the cheeks of an arse is kind of limited to other options.
‘Crack on’ is a line different from any of the other three. Sure, it is not that difficult to come up with a word or phrase that is bum-related. In the film My Name is Joe one of the characters decorates a living-room wall with his trousers slipping to reveal his butt crack. The line, ‘Split decision,’ was an obvious choice of selection but neither the writers nor the actors stole that line. It is one of those lines almost anyone could come up with.
However, Janey Godley’s ‘Crack on’ line has some…dare I pun…bite to it…as she adds a value to the advert.
If ‘Bottoms up’ can be construed as a phrase synonymous with the upper class then Janey Godley’s ‘Crack on’ could be her working-class version but it is neither an adaptation and neither has it been updated or tweaked. It’s an ad-lib born from working-class thinking. It is also personally thought up so therefore she must be acknowledged for it.
It is all-too-easy to say anyone could have come up with anything crack-related but adding the on to urge the cyclist to park his bike is a lot more original than Irn Bru’s other three lines. For that, Janey Godley should be credited.”
Alleged and blatant lifting material from other sources without crediting is nothing new to comedians. Our very own comedian Stephen Hamilton said of Godley’s situation: “Comedians and writers of comedy are fiercely proud of their creations and when someone just comes along and uses something you’ve personally created without credit is very frustrating. Sadly, Janey’s situation is not the first and it certainly won’t be the last.”
Comedians don’t have what Getty Images have in the respect that if you use one of their images without permission or license they come down hard on you. Comedians don’t have that kind of back up other artists have in the music or film industry.
So what can Janey Godley do about her claims Irn Bru used her line without credit?
Stephanie Meyer isn’t too optimistic about Janey Godley’s chances but applauds her for highlighting what she feels to be creative injustice.
Janey Godley rightly feels a sense of being cheated. She has the back up that proves she was first on the ball with her ‘crack on’ line (unless Irn Bru have something to the contrary) and she certainly has added value and input. In fact, her line closes the deal as it goes from ‘crack on’ straight to Irn Bru’s slogan Gets You Through. If that was my line I too, would feel a tad disappointed had I not been credited.”
Any advice for Janey?
“It has happened and it will likely happen again. Try to put it behind you and dare I say…crack on.”
Irn Bru are certainly guilty for their lack of originality with their latest advert, according to critics, but if it turns out to be true that they used Janey Godley’s line without crediting her (and we don’t doubt Janey for a second) then the drinks company have just created a slogan for their next campaign: It’s all in bad taste.