It was just three days ago that “Saturday Night Live” electrified the controversy over whether or not draw the Islamic prophet Muhammad with a comedy skit showing game-show contestants paralyzed with fear.
Now, NBC is being accused of blatant theft of the routine.
Once “SNL” aired its version over the weekend, viewers in Canada recalled a hauntingly familiar “Win Lose or Draw Muhammad” sketch that was broadcast in January on the long-running CBC show, “This Hour Has 22 Minutes.”
Not only was the challenge to draw Muhammad the same, so was the prize amount, the abject fear on the contestants, and the correct guess at the end by a woman sitting on a couch.
Here’s what millions saw on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend:
And here’s what was aired on “22 Minutes” in Canada:
Reaction was immediate online.
“Wow, SNL just ripped this off almost verbatim. Who should they make the check out to?” wrote one YouTube viewer.
“This was completely stolen by ‘Saturday Night Live’ last night, joke for joke. Is there anything you guys can do?” wondered Todd Flynn.
Canadian Steven Crowder noted: “We hate to falsely accuse anyone of plagiarism but … come on now.”
And referring to the network’s veracity problem with its “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams, Anthony George told WND: “So this means that NBC has more than just Brian Williams doing copycat stuff!”
While neither of the TV shows have commented on the alleged theft publicly, comedian Shaun Majumder, who portrayed the host on the “22 Minutes” skit, joked on Twitter, “Wow if only we could steal some of their budget. #GreatMindsThinkAlike.”
Majumder added: “I think both pieces are important satirical comedy with two different audiences.”
Mark Critch, who played the contestant on CBC, indicated this is not the first time “SNL” has ripped off his show.
“This has happened a few times both ways but this is the (closest) I’ve ever seen,” he tweeted.
“While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, DHX Media Ltd. takes infringement of its intellectual property very seriously,” DHX Media executive chairman Michael Donovan told the Hollywood Reporter.
The skit on “SNL” came the same week that two gunmen were killed after they opened fire on a security officer outside a cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, to draw the prophet Muhammad for a $10,000 prize.