TV

This Week’s Episode Isn’t The First Time ‘SNL’ Has Been Accused Of Stealing A Sketch

Earlier today, we reported that fans of comedian Tig Notaro are upset at SNL for allegedly “ripping off” her short film, “Clown Service.” It’s most likely a coincidence. For one thing, the show’s writers are better than that; also, they’re not dumb enough to plagiarize the friend of that episode’s host. But it’s not the first time SNL (which, as the biggest sketch comedy show on television, always has a target on its back) has been accused of stealing.

Here are some other notable instances.

SNL sketch: “Ladies Who Lunch”
“Original” sketch: “Tiny Hats”

“I woke up this morning to a bunch of tweets mentioning me and saying, can you believe this skit?” That’s what Tim Heidecker, of Tim and Eric fame, told Vulture in 2010, the day after SNL premiered its “Ladies Who Lunch” sketch, about a group of women wear increasingly tiny hats. Speaking of tiny hats: There’s a Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! sketch from 2007 also about increasingly tiny hats called… “Tiny Hats.” Heidecker found “Ladies Who Lunch” to be “similar to our sketch, surprisingly similar,” but “we understand that we’ve created something that a lot of people in comedy watch and like, and influences are totally fine.” He added, “I don’t want to start a big thing here. But it’ll be interesting to see what the web does with this.”

SNL sketch: “Settl”
“Original” sketch: “Settl”

Sketches about dating apps are a dime a dozen, but Ben Zweig thought SNL went too far when it “ripped off my hackathon project” for Comedy Hack Day, an annual event that mixes humor with technology. As Zweig wrote on Medium in 2015, “Teams rapidly take a facetious project from concept to completion, ideally ending up with a final product that actually ‘works.'”

He and his friend Matt Condon eventually came up with Settl, a Tinder parody for “sad people.” After performing the project, they didn’t think about the “dumb joke app” again until months later, when SNL also showed off a dumb joke app called Settl. Zweig admits it’s possible the writers came up with the premise “completely independently,” but “even then, a simple Google search would’ve informed you it had been done. Hell, one Reddit user who was searching for your very recent SNL sketch inadvertently found our months-old project instead, and thought them similar enough to post about it. If that ain’t damning, I don’t know what is. What happened is either a degree of comedic plagiarism, or an impressive lack of basic, easily-done research.”

SNL sketch: “Open Fly Jeans”
“Original” sketch: “Dickhole Jeans”

Shortly after the Tim and Eric controversy, comedy website Splitsider noted the similarities between dueling Brett Favre parodies. In Funny or Die’s video, the former-Packers gunslinger promotes his “Dickhole Jeans,” while SNL‘s Favre does basically the same thing but for Open Fly Jeans. Of course, this was around the time Favre was embroiled in a sexting scandal, and as Splitsider notes, “It’s probably a case of two sets of people coming up with the same joke at the same time.”

SNL sketch: “Picture Perfect”
“Original” sketch: “Win, Lose, or Draw Muhammad”

What happens when the SNL cast is asked to draw the prophet Muhammad? They’re accused of plagiarizing a sketch from the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes, inciting cast member Shaun Majumder to tweet, “Wow if only we could steal some of their budget.”

SNL sketch: “River Sisters”
“Original” sketch: “Rollin’ Sketch”

“River Sisters” isn’t available online because of music rights (the song “Proud Mary” is prominently featured). But conspiracy theorists might have you believe it’s because SNL doesn’t want anyone to revisit the sketch, in which Cecily Strong, Sasheer Zamata, and host Sarah Silverman play Tina Turner impersonators in a riverboat casino. That sounds an awful like a sketch from Los Angeles improv group The Groundlings, in which Kimberly Condict and Vanessa Ragland play Tina Turner impersonators in a casino. In fact, they’re so similar, Groundlings instructor Ian Gary took to Facebook to discuss SNL‘s so-called “blatant” thievery. “Over the years I have seen MANY, MANY sketches flat out stolen from my friends by Saturday Night Live. Nearly verbatim. Word for word,” he wrote. “And everyone in our community goes ‘Oh man. That sucks,’ and nobody says anything because I guess SNL is still some dream for some people or they don’t want to get involved, or a million other reasonable things that stop people from standing up for each other when things are blatantly wrong. Well, enough of that. This is f*cked up.”

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