Founders of a New York-based comedy troupe have accused Saturday Night Live of plagiarizing not one, but two of their sketches this season. An NBC attorney has denied the claim.
In both instances, the founders of Temple Horses, Nick Ruggia and Ryan Hoffman, found out about the similarities through friends after the SNL sketches aired. When the first one aired, they let it go. When the second one aired in the same season, they decided to do something about it.
In the attorney letter obtained by Variety, the parallels are meticulously outlined. Neither NBC nor Saturday Night Live has responded publicly to the allegations; however, the founders of Temple Horses say that an NBC attorney responded verbally to their letter saying that their own internal investigation of the claims found that the writers of “The Pumpkin Patch” and “Pound Puppy” – two different writers who were not named – had developed the ideas independently. Further, the attorney stated that NBC found no similarities between the sketches that would be protected under copyright law.
First aired in October 2018 in the episode hosted by Awkafina, “The Pumpkin Patch” opens on the owner of a pumpkin patch scolding a group of men and one woman for performing lewd acts with pumpkins. The group insists that isn’t what is going on, but in the end they are banned from the pumpkin patch. This is the exact same setting, characters, and plot as the sketch “Fucking A Pumpkin,” which was posted on YouTube by Temple Horses in October 2014. In each, the pumpkin patch owner warns the group that there are children nearby. Each sketch also involves the members of the group roleplaying as the pumpkin.
The second sketch, called “Pound Puppy” by SNL and “Pet Blinders” by Temple Horses, attempts to find a creative solution to being watched during sex by your pets. The sketches come up with slightly different answers. SNL’s sketch featuring the episode’s host, Don Cheadle, proposed a dog-shaped tent while Temple Horses’ suggested a sleeping mask for dogs. Though the solution is different, the dilemma and even the types of dogs in the clips are remarkably similar. SNL’s sketch aired in February 2019 while Temple Horses’ was first uploaded to YouTube in September 2011.
According to Variety, NBC is in the process of drafting a formal statement addressing the allegations. The attorney letter says that Ruggia and Hoffman aren’t “looking for anything salacious,” but rather that they want “credit and a genuine token of recognition for two hilarious sketches they wrote.”