A teacher at the Groundlings in Los Angeles has accused Saturday Night Live of “stealing” a sketch idea that aired on Saturday’s episode of the NBC variety series.
Ian Gary took to his Facebook page early Monday (Oct. 6) to argue that a sketch about Tina Turner impersonators was actually a Groundlings idea. The Groundlings’ version features Vanessa Ragland and Kimberly Condict, while SNL‘s sketch featured host Sarah Silverman and castmembers Cecily Strong and Sasheer Zamata.
While Gary praises SNL as one of his influences and says he isn’t out to “attack” the show or anyone associated with it, he writes: “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.”
Gary also posted a photo of the stars of each sketch in similar costumes inspired by one of Turner’s iconic stage outfits. While both sketches have the same concept — the comediennes sing “Proud Mary” as they give brief histories of their career and how they wound up as Tina Turner impersonators — the jokes themselves are different. Still, Gary argued that there are many similarities.
“This is f—ed up,” he added. “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.”
Condict also weighed in on her own Facebook page, writing: “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!'” Condict uploaded the video to YouTube the day after SNL aired (the show tapes in New York, while the Groundlings sketch was performed in Los Angeles).
Ragland also posted a link to her sketch on Facebook, writing: “THE O.G TT sketch w/ me and Kimberly Condict.”
However, a source close to the show refutes the accusation and says the 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 said.