Conan O'Brien in 2016. He is being sued by a writer who accuses him of stealing jokes. O'Brien says the idea of stealing someone else's comedy makes him physically ill. Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images The Two-Way Can You Copyright Your Dumb Joke? And How Can You Prove It's Yours? May 17, 2017 "Joke theft" sounds funny, but that claim is at the heart of a lawsuit lodged against Conan O'Brien. The case brings thorny questions of humor to the courtroom, a place not always known for jokes.