‘Saturday ‘Night Live’ Stole Groundlings Sketch? Comedy Troupe Accuse ‘SNL’ Of Ripping Off Tina Turner Skit (VIDEO)

Did Saturday Night Live steal one of its sketches from The Groundlings? Two members of the famed improv comedy group made the accusation this weekend.

The SNL sketch in question featured stars Cecily Strong and Sasheer Zamata, along with guest host Sarah Silverman, performing the Tina Turner hit “Proud Mary.” But in between the verses, the three ladies reveal the backstories about how they got into the situations described in the song. Strong’s character, for instance, claimed that she “left a good job in the city,” as she quit Google by telling her bosses, “See you later, f-words.”

Interestingly, NBC has not posted this SNL Tina Turner sketch online, nor was it included in their PR email about last week’s episode. But, as AV Club noted, this just might be because of copyright issues with “Proud Mary.” Thankfully, video of the Saturday Night Live skit did eventually make its way onto the Internet, so you can check it out below.

But after Saturday Night Live aired, Groundlings member Kimberly Condict tweeted that this sketch was strikingly similar to one she performed with fellow Groundling Vanessa Ragland.

Ragland even posted the video of the Groundlings sketch as proof. And indeed, while the specific punch lines are different, both the Groundling and Saturday Night Live clips do feature Tina Turner impersonators  interrupting “Proud Mary” with their hard-luck stories.

Meanwhile, Groundlings teacher Ian Gary claimed that this is not the first time SNL has stolen one of the group’s sketches. Gary went on a lengthy Facebook rant stating that this practice is all too common. He even accused Saturday Night Live producers of stealing some of his pals’ sketch comedy skits verbatim.

“Over the years I have seen MANY, MANY sketches flat out stolen from my friends by Saturday Night Live,” Gary’s statement read in part. “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.Groundlings Tina Turner

“Well, enough of that. This is f–ked up. This is stupid. And we have the means to make people aware of blatant rip offs of other people’s 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.”

Indeed, this Tina Turner sketch is not the first time Saturday Night Live has been accused of ripping off sketches. Back in 2010, fans of Tim Heidecker And Eric Wareheim claimed SNL’s “Ladies Who Lunch” skit was a rip-off of the duo’s “Tiny Hats” video.

“I woke up this morning to a bunch of tweets mentioning me and saying ‘can you believe this skit,'” Heidecker told Vulture at the time. “I didn’t see it last night, but I watched it this morning, and found it to be very similar to our sketch, surprisingly similar … We understand that we’ve created something that a lot of people in comedy watch and like, and influences are totally fine. We draw influences from people all the time.”

That same year, viewers made similar comparisons between Saturday Night Live’s “Open Fly Jeans” parody ad and Funny or Die’s “Dickhole Jeans” video, both of which mocked Brett Favre’s Wrangler commercials and sexting scandal.

Still, a source close to SNL insisted the similarities between the show’s “Proud Mary” sketch and the Groundlings’ video were just coincidental.  “It’s a common idea since Tina Turner is such an iconic figure,” the insider told Laughspin, “The similarities represent parallel thinking in the comedy world.”

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Melissa Siegel

Melissa Siegel is a writer and journalist based in a suburb of New York City.

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