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“SNL” may be facing more than just chatter over its alleged plagiarism of a sketch aired by Canadian comedy series “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” — it may actually be looking at a lawsuit.
“I think lawyers are talking right now,” “22 Minutes” writer and cast member Mark Critch — who appeared in the Muhammad sketch in question — told CBC's “St. John's Morning Show” during an interview Wednesday.
“You can't do that,” he continued. “I mean people have ripped people off before, millions of times, but this is word for word and DHX Media – which owns own '22 Minutes' – said they want to protect their intellectual property.”
The “22 Minutes” sketch, which aired in January, centers on a “Win, Lose or Draw”-style game show in which participants are asked to draw the Prophet Muhammad — an act that's considered blasphemous in the Islamic tradition. The “SNL” sketch, which aired this past weekend, bears the same basic premise and boasts a number of striking similarities to the “22 Minutes” version, including the punchline in which the partner of the contestant correctly guesses what he's been tasked with drawing despite his refusal to do so.
Continued Critch: “They did pretty much the exact same sketch…Never ever, in all my years of of making fun of people, have I seen anything that's pretty much word for word.”
Jeremy Woodcock, the writer who penned the “22 Minutes” sketch, also weighed in during an interview on CBC's “Q” radio program:
“[SNL] have amazing actors and stuff so they had a lot more business going on, their show is three times longer [than '22 Minutes'], but just when it would get to the situation, it was always the same situation of panicking and then the answer was the same,” he said, before adding: “I'm in the enviable position of not having to think about [legal action]…It was on a TV show, so I get to let '22 Minutes' or CBC and 'SNL' sort of duke it out while I just sort of play in the sandbox and keep writing because, it's theirs at this point.”
This is the second time over the past several months that “SNL” has been slammed with charges of plagiarism: back in October, the show was accused of ripping off a “Proud Mary” sketch from L.A. sketch comedy troupe The Groundlings. In response to the outcry, “SNL” removed the offending sketch from syndication and the NBC website.
Watch both sketches below and let us know what you think.