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‘Wild coincidence’ or ‘parallel thinking’: YouTuber defends ‘SNL’s’ Charmin Bears bit

Two adults dressed up in blue and white bear suits
Heidi Gardner, left, and Kenan Thompson perform a “Charmin Bears” sketch on the Oct. 1 episode of “Saturday Night Live.”
(Will Heath / NBC)

Comedian Joel Haver is chalking up similarities between “Saturday Night Live’s” recent Charmin Bears sketch and his own similar parody about the toilet-paper spokesanimals as “wild coincidence” and “parallel thinking,” not stealing.

After the Emmy-winning sketch comedy show aired the bit — starring host Miles Teller, stars Kenan Thompson and Bowen Yang — last weekend, eagle-eyed fans compared it to the YouTuber’s animated July cartoon “Toilet Paper Bears” that shared a similar premise: A young bear wants to break with his family’s toilet paper-oriented business to pursue a career in the arts.

Haver’s young bear wants to go into theater, while Teller’s version wants to be a dancer — both to the chagrin of their disapproving, glasses-wearing fathers.

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“When it comes to these stealing accusations, I always err on the side of coincidence,” Haver said in a video response uploaded Tuesday. “I think parallel thinking does happen more often than not.”

The content creator, who has a 1.69-million subscriber following and nearly 195 million views on YouTube, said he received a deluge of comments on his original video and was mentioned in several tweets after “SNL’s” skit aired on Saturday. But he waited to see it for himself before passing judgment. He said it was “pretty alarming” and a little weird how “very similar” the two works were. (His video, he said, already had 1 million views on the platform, nearly three times that of “SNL’s” sketch.)

“I’ve always been somebody who feels like the same joke told by two different comics is essentially a different joke,” he explained. “Our deliveries are very different and at the end of the day you can’t go researching every idea you think about. The internet is huge... it’s inevitable you’re going to overlap.”

The Season 48 premiere of ‘Saturday Night Live’ was hosted by ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ star Miles Teller with musical guest Kendrick Lamar.

“When it comes to the Charmin Bears thing, there’s a lot of coincidences that would have to line up to make it truly a coincidence, but I don’t think it was malicious. It was either a subconscious borrowing from somebody on their writers’ staff who saw my video, or it was a wild coincidence,” he said, adding that he liked his “natural, weird, dry” delivery better than “SNL’s” dancing bit.

The comic said that if he was a smaller creator, which he was for a long time, he “could see it rubbing me the wrong way” and “being a little more likely to believe they did steal it,” but recognized that he’s “in a position to not be bothered by it.”

He went on to plug other creators to increase their profiles too.

A person close to the show, who was not authorized to comment on the situation, confirmed to The Times on Tuesday that the “Charmin Bears” sketch writer had not seen Haver’s “Toilet Paper Bears” video and also called the similarities “a case of parallel thinking.”


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