SNL has been accused of plagiarizing someone else’s sketch. The long-running American sketch comedy series has been an integral part of NBC’s programming since its creation by Lorne Michaels in 1975. Back then, the show was known as NBC’s Saturday Night and has since gone on to kick-start some of comedy’s biggest names, including Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey and Kristin Wiig.
As is to be expected, any series that runs for such a considerable length of time is bound to experience its share of hardship and controversy at some point. Much focus has often been placed on the so-called "SNL Curse," which acknowledges the considerable number of untimely deaths that have befallen one-time cast members such as John Belushi, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman and Gilda Radner. Other controversies have included allowing presidential candidate Donald Trump to host the program in 2015, as well as mishaps involving guests who added something "extra" to their performances while the program was live.
The latest issue to hit the program, however, involves the creation of SNL’s actual content. As reported by Variety, New York comedy troupe Temple Horses has accused SNL of plagiarizing two of its sketches. Both Temple Horses sketches in question, entitled “Not Trying to F*** This Pumpkin” and “Pet Blinders” were uploaded to YouTube several years prior to similar SNL sketches “The Pumpkin Patch” and “Pound Puppy,” with the recent SNL sketches utilizing similar concepts. Both of the sketches by Temple Horses and SNL can be viewed below:
Temple Horses, who have been uploading their own sketches to YouTube since their formation in 2011, initially did not wish to pursue the matter. After learning of the similarities between their pumpkin sketch and SNL’s, the group’s founders, Nick Ruggia and Ryan Hoffman, were shocked, but ultimately decided to let the issue go. However, when SNL’s “Pound Puppy” sketch found its way onto the popular late night sketch show recently, Ruggia and Hoffman felt compelled to act. The pair’s attorney detailed the similarities between the sketches in a letter to NBC, to which an NBC attorney responded by asserting that there were no similarities, and that SNL’s sketches were independently created by the show’s writers.
When watching the sketches back-to-back, what quickly becomes apparent is that while the concepts may be similar or the same, the content itself is not. Humor is, of course, often very subjective, and in this particular case, the SNL sketches are both funnier, more succinct, and professionally put together. The concepts are also not so uniquely clever that an SNL writer would have trouble coming up with them his or herself. As Ruggia and Hoffman wish to be acknowledged and compensated for work they claim is theirs, their YouTube channel has gained a substantial rise in viewership over the controversy. Far from a large cash settlement with SNL, it’s probably the best end result that Temple Horses can or should hope for.