Saturday Night Live is pinching comedy sketches, according to some members of the Groundlings in Los Angeles, who spoke out after seeing Saturday’s Tina Turner impersonators sketch they say bore way too strong a resemblance to a sketch performed for weeks at their establishment.
After SNL aired the sketch, people began to weigh in. LA-based writer-director John Irwin, for instance, took to Facebook to claim rannygazoo might have been perpetrated, remembering the sketch his Groundlings pals performed.
“For several weeks at the Groundlings,” he wrote, “Vanessa Bruiser Ragland and Kimberly Condict performed the heck out of their brilliant and hillarious sketch featuring a Tina Turner tribute band singing ‘Rollin’’ at a casino with their musings during the music pauses about the establishment’s food, the bad hands life dealt them, and a past gig on a Nebraska river boat — the sketch ends with the MC piping in.” Irwin added that SNL‘s sketch featured many of the same elements.
“[O]ver the years, I have seen MANY MANY sketches flat out stolen from my friends by Saturday Night Live,” Groundlings teacher Ian Gary wrote in outrage. “Nearly verbatim,” he said, like he meant it to sting. “Word for word.”
Gary continued: “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.
“This is f***ed up,” he said. “This is stupid.”
The SNL sketch featured guest host Sarah Silverman and regulars Cecily Strong and Sasheer Zamata. Groundlings Condict and Ragland also tweeted their displeasure, claiming their sketch is loads funnier than SNL’s. Here it is:
Gary, meanwhile, lobbed grenades at SNL in his Facebook post, pausing only long enough to insist he’s not attacking the NBC late-night show, “or anyone that has ever been a part, will be a part, or was a part” of it, because “I have very dear friends who have written and performed or still do, on that show” — not to mention that he very much respects “the INSTITUTION.”
He finished by telling people that this does not need to be a finger pointing, but they should share the evidence with their friends on Facebook, etc, and “let people know that STEALING other peoples art and passing it off as your own like you’re the biggest bully in the room is NOT okay, and stop being silent about the blatant theft of other people’s creations.”
Video of the performances were posted online; also photos of the two performances’ uncannily similar costumes — which one source says proves SNL did not rip off the Groundlings because, if the show had, it would have been more careful to avoid the similar dresses. Parties from both sides of the argument concede the gags during the tune’s long-ish pauses are different.
It’s not the first time SNL has been accused of shoplifting — that’s a time-honored tradition. Back in 2010, for instance, Huffington Post reported breathlessly that the season debut’s “tiny hats” gag was shockingly similar to a 2007 parody ad on Adult Swim‘s Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
Heck, even last Saturday, some viewers noted the SNL “Weekend Update” gag about Secret Service Director Julia Pierson appearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee while President Obama was being chased, might have perhaps been a tad funnier had not The Onion used the gag on Wednesday.
Nonetheless, The Reporters Who Cover Television really foamed over today about the Tina Turner sketch scandal. Several media outlets cited a response from a source close to the show who refuted the accusation, saying SNL writers had no knowledge of the Groundlings sketch.
“It’s a common idea since Tina Turner is such an iconic figure. The similarities represent parallel thinking in the comedy world,” the source told multiple media outlets – proving that somebody over there is still writing original comedy, anyway.