Josh Ostrovsky — known as “The Fat Jew” on social media — is sky-rocking to fame thanks to his Instagram account full of memes and jokes that don’t actually belong to him.
It was announced last week he was signing with Hollywood talent agency CAA, and after a bunch of comedians came together on Twitter and Facebook to call him out for stealing their jokes, Ostrovsky has been the subject of various takedown pieces across the internet.
Jesse David Fox of Vulture was able to track the somewhat elusive “Fat Jew” down for an interview, where he hammered Ostrovsky about his Instagram practices and the lengths he goes to skip out on crediting those who create the jokes that are helping his internet persona grow.
He also found that Ostrovsky doesn’t work alone.
“I have an army of interns working out of the back of a nail salon in Queens,” he tells Fox, after Fox wondered why he doesn’t employ an intern solely to make sure all of the images Ostrovsky posts are properly credited.
He has admitted so much to the New York Times as well.
In 2014, he told the Times about his nail salon room of interns and also mentioned two writing partners.
“He has two writing partners, a comedian named Jonathan Sollis and David Oliver Cohen, a social media writer behind the “White Girl Problems” Twitter feed,” the Times reported.
There is no mention of these writing partners in Ostrovsky’s interview with Fox. Still, Ostrovsky tells Fox he just has “so much stuff going on” to allocate an intern just for properly sourcing material to post on Instagram.
Beyond his glory on the photo-sharing platform, The Fat Jew launched a “White Girl Rosé” this summer, is coming out with a book this fall, and up until very recently had a television show in the works with Comedy Central (Splitsider reports that deal fell through).
But his Instagram account is what started Ostrovsky on the path to social media fame, and the reason why so many comedians are angry.
A writer named Maura Quint openly criticised Ostrovsky in a Facebook post earlier this month, linking to the Hollywood Reporter’s post regarding his new contract with CAA.
“The people he steals from are struggling writers, comedians, etc. They would love to be able to profit from THEIR OWN WORK but can’t because this complete waste of a person is monetizing their words before they even have a chance to,” she writes.
In his interview with Fox, Ostrovsky says he never purposefully cropped a comedians name out of their joke.
I have never done that. Not once. I want people to get credit for stuff. You have to understand that the internet is like this giant Jacuzzi of insanity, and it’s just filled with so much stuff. I would never take someone’s name off something. That’s not who I am or what I’m about.
But later on in the interview he admits he wasn’t always correctly sourcing the images he took. He tells Fox:
My interns and I find pop-culture stuff that’s hyperrelevant and that’s going to resonate with people, and when it feels right, we put it up. At the end of the day, I get it: I should have been providing attribution for all posts. It’s always been important to me. The internet is a vast ocean of stuff, and sometimes it’s hard to find the original source of something. I now realise that if I couldn’t find a source for something, I probably shouldn’t have posted it in the first place.
Will this change anything for Ostrovsky? Maybe. Seamless has reportedly dropped its deal with him, but he’s still slated to walk in New York Fashion Week this Fall (“I’ve got plus-size modelling,” he tells Fox.)
But the comedians whose work Ostrovsky lifted don’t seem to think forgiveness is in the cards. Patrick Walsh is one of those comedians.
“Being a comedian or a writer is a job just like any other,” Walsh told Rolling Stone. “To see someone this devoid of talent get rich off of almost exclusively stolen material while the people having their stuff stolen struggle is infuriating.”
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