Saturday Night Live ran a skit this past weekend that addressed the very unfortunate shootings at a very unfortunate “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” in Texas. The sketch, “Picture Perfect,” portrays a Win, Lose Or Draw-type show where one unlucky team is tasked with having to draw the Prophet Muhammad. It was mildly amusing, mildly insensitive—and mildly unoriginal, considering that the CBC sketch-comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes aired an extremely similar skit back in January.
Are the similar sketches evidence of stolen work, or just coincidence? The similarity between the two versions—including the punchline—suggests that it’s very possible that somebody at SNL saw the skit and recycled its premise. (Of course, it’s equally likely that the two writer’s rooms both reached for the same obvious “who the hell would even want to draw Muhammad?” joke.) On the one hand, the earlier version is compact and economical in a way that suggests SNL should be ripping off more than concepts. On the other, the SNL version has Taran Killam as a vaguely menacing host and Kenan Thompson as Family Matters’ Reginald VelJohnson, suggesting SNL doesn’t need to know how to wrap up a skit, because it has Kenan Thompson as Reginald VelJohnson.
You can watch both skits below, and judge for yourself if SNL indeed copied This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and, if it did, if the plagiarism was an improvement.