Billy Eichner is flame-broiling Burger King.
The comedian is lighting up Twitter with claims that the fast food chain ripped off his "Billy on the Street" act in its new ad.
Both his TV show and the commercial feature a man aggressively interviewing people on the street. In Billy's show, he thrusts his mic into pedestrians faces and gives on the-spot pop culture quizzes like "Miley Cyrus—then or now?" and "Who would you rather have dinner with? Michelle Obama or Oprah?"
In the Burger King ad, the actor—who sorta looks like Billy if you don't put your glasses on—is shown holding a microphone and a box of nuggets. He asks two teenagers on the street "How much do you think these chicken nuggets are?" After they guess "five dollars" he says the real price and squawks. They squawk back at him. Cue nugget close-ups and price and availability information.
Imitation may be flattery, but at least when it comes to celebrities it can also be theft. In 1988 after Bette Midler refused to sing for Ford in one of their commercials, the car maker's ad agency hired a sound-a-like singer to impersonate Midler. She sued and a Court of Appeals decision made it illegal to imitate a widely-known singer's voice to sell a product without express consent.
This particular case is still in the court of public opinion. So, inspiration, coincidence or ripoff? You be the judge. Mashable published a side-by-side mashup of the ad and some similar moments from Billy's show.
But Billy and some on his side say they're already convinced they know the answer. After the spot aired last night, Billy's fans began pointing out to him the similarities between the ad and his bit.
Billy took to Twitter to denounce the ad and encouraged his fans to rise up against the Burger King and send them negative tweets.
Other comedians also chimed in on Billy's behalf.
So far, Burger King hasn't responded on social media or to requests for comment. But after Billy gave McDonald's props, the Twitter account for the golden arches jumped in the mix.
It's a real burger war now.
Email Ben Popken at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bpopken.