Members of the Groundlings improv comedy troupe have accused Saturday Night Live—where a number of Groundlings alums have gone on to be cast members and hosts—of stealing a sketch idea that aired during this past Saturday's episode with host Sarah Silverman.
Ian Gary, a teacher at the Groundlings in Los Angeles, posted to his Facebook page earlier today that SNL sketch in question—starring Silverman, Cecily Strong, and Sasheer Zamata—was a ripoff of a Groundlings sketch starring cast members Vanessa Ragland and Kimberly Condict and that apparently this has been going on for years:
Alright. So this is weird. And a delicate subject... I, like many of my friends, do sketch comedy. I have a lot of influences, especially SNL to thank for that. Over the years, I, and many of my friends have performed in front of Lorne Michaels and his staff. And this is not an attack on SNL or anyone that has ever been a part, will be a part, or was a part of it... I have very dear friends who have written and performed or still do, on that show. The respect that I have for those people, for the countless others I don't know and the television INSTITUTION that is SNL is off the charts...And I'm sure that goes without saying for most everyone reading this.
But, over the years I have seen MANY, MANY sketches flat out stolen from my friends by Saturday Night Live. Nearly verbatim. Word for word... 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 fucked up. This is stupid. And we have the means to make people aware of blatant rip offs of other peoples material. It doesn't need to be a witch hunt. It doesn't need to be pointing fingers, assigning blame, or taking sides. But a simple case of what's right and wrong.
Conceptually, the two sketches are nearly identical: Both are about Tina Turner impersonators who interpolate the lyrics of "Proud Mary" with spoken bits explaining how they arrived at their current situation. The respective sketches' jokes are different, but their setups are glaringly similar. (To me, the Groundlings sketch is livelier and funnier; SNL's falls flat.)
For their part, Ragland and Condict agree, posting to their own Facebook pages decrying SNL for allegedly stealing their sketch concept. Ragland simply posted a link to a YouTube clip of her and Condict performing the sketch, writing, "THE O.G TT sketch w/ me and Kimberly Condict."
If you liked the sketch SNL did last night about a Tina Turner tribute band musing and singing to "Rollin' on a River," then you'll LOVE this sketch Vanessa Bruiser Ragland and I wrote and performed for six weeks this summer at Groundlings about a Tina Turner tribute band musing and singing to "Rollin' on a River!"
The Groundlings' sketch embedded above; SNL's below:
[There was a video here]
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