Did Saturday Night Live plagiarize its “Picture Perfect” sketch from a Canadian satire series? The much-discussed SNL skit about drawing Muhammad is strikingly similar to one that appeared on This Hour Has 22 Minutes in January.
“Picture Perfect” starred Taran Killam as host of a Pictionary-esque game show. A contestant played by Bobby Moynihan was then given the prompt “Muhammad” and had no idea where to begin. He stammered that he couldn’t draw the prophet, so he traded places with teammate “Reginald VelJohnson” from Family Matters (played by Kenan Thompson). He, too, refused to even attempt a drawing once he saw what the prompt was. But the team still won, as the wife of Moynihan’s character (played by guest host Reese Witherspoon), figured out the right answer based on her teammate’s reluctance to draw it.
This SNL skit, of course, was in response to the recent attack at a Muhammad cartoon competition. There have been similar terrorist attacks around the world over the past few months, most notably the fatal shooting at the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Muslims are banned from depicting the prophet in any form, and drawings or cartoons of Muhammad are considered offensive.
Shortly after this SNL sketch aired, some commenters noted how similar “Picture Perfect” was to the This Hour Has 22 Minutes skit “Win Lose Or Draw Muhammad.” Indeed, both do feature a contestant having to draw the prophet on a game show. And in both cases, the contestant wins when his partner figures out the correct answer solely based on fact that the teammate can’t draw it.
The similarities were not lost on two of the stars of the Canadian sketch, Mark Critch and Shaun Majumder. Critch, who played the contestant, tweeted several stories about the SNL controversy. And Majumder, who played the host, joked about Saturday Night Live copying his show’s idea. “Wow if only we could steal some of their budget,” he wrote alongside a link to a story about the Saturday Night Live skit.
But Majumder later clarified that there is room for both “Picture Perfect” and “Win Lose Or Draw Muhammad” in the comedy landscape. “I think both pieces are important satirical comedy with two different audiences,” he concluded on Twitter.
This is not the first time Saturday Night Live has been accused of stealing a sketch this season. Back in October, several members of The Groundlings claimed SNL plagiarized a skit about the Tina Turner hit “Proud Mary.” Both versions featured singers on a riverboat cruise performing “Proud Mary” while telling the sad stories of their own lives. But an insider insisted at the time that this was just a coincidence.
“It’s a common idea since Tina Turner is such an iconic figure,” the source told Laughspin, “The similarities represent parallel thinking in the comedy world.”