‘Saturday Night Live’ Accused Of Plagiarism

New York comedy troupe Temple Horses says two of its sketches were ripped off by the NBC show.

Lorne MIchaels at the Emmys.
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

New York comedy troupe Temple Horses says two of its sketches were ripped off by the NBC show.

A New York-based comedy duo has accused Saturday Night Live writers of plagiarizing their sketches for the venerable late-night comedy show without credit, according to Variety. Comedy duo Nick Ruggia and Ryan Hoffman are the founders of the sketch comedy troupe Temple Horses, which has been around since 2011. The troupe has shot 60 sketches and uploaded over 30 of them to their YouTube channel, where they have over 3,000 subscribers. Some of those videos have had over 200,000 views.

But two of the lesser-viewed ones, “F**king a Pumpkin” and “Pet Blinders,” are the ones that Ruggia and Hoffman say are strikingly similar to sketches that recently have appeared on SNL, under the titles “The Pumpkin Patch” and “Pound Puppy.”

“Imagine, one day you come home and it looks like somebody’s robbed your house,” Hoffman said.What do you want from that situation? We feel like somebody took our stuff, and this isn’t the kind of thing where you can just get it back or call your insurance company to have it replaced, so at this point we’re just speaking out about it.”

Ruggia and Hoffman hired attorney Wallace Neel, who sent a letter to NBC outlining point by point the similarities the pair noticed between their Temple Horses sketches and those that appeared on SNL. For instance, each of the pumpkin patch-related sketches opens with a pumpkin patch owner working and selling pumpkins to people. Both sketches then cut to the owner confronting groups of men and one woman who appear to be attempting to have sex with the pumpkins. The accused deny they were doing anything wrong, and the owner warns them that children are nearby, and then the people are banned from the pumpkin patch. That’s the order of events in both sketches.

Kate McKinnon at the Emmys.
Actress Kate McKinnon of ‘Saturday Night Live.’ Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

The letter pointed out that Temple Horses uploaded their sketch to YouTube in 2014, four years before the similar sketch appeared on SNL.

The letter claimed that the similarities between the SNL sketch “Pound Puppy” and the Temple Horses sketch “Pet Blinders” were equally profound. Each sketch is set around a fictional product that obscures a pet’s vision while its owners are having sex. The letter says that each sketch uses three “separate settings for pet-interruption, introducing the pet owners’ dilemma,” then employs a dog’s viewpoint for one shot followed by a reverse shot, and each uses labrador, a medium-sized dog, and a smaller one. Temple Horses version was uploaded in 2011 and the SNL sketch aired last month.

According to Ruggio and Hoffman, an NBC lawyer responded verbally and said that an internal investigation revealed that the SNL writers came up with their ideas independently. The lawyer added that the company found no similarities with the Temple Horses’ sketches that would be protected by copyright.