Some folks at the legendary Groundlings comedy troupe weren't laughing at "Saturday Night Live" this last week.
NBC's late-night comedy show featured a sketch lampooning a trio of Tina Turner impersonators on a cruise ship, with one of the performers played by guest host Sarah Silverman.
But to Ian Gary, the whole thing seemed awfully familiar. A teacher at the Groundlings, a famed Los Angeles-based improv comedy troupe, Gary wrote on his Facebook page that the "SNL" skit was a rip-off of a Groundlings sketch performed by Vanessa Ragland and Kimberly Condict.
Both sketches featured Turner impersonators singing to "Proud Mary," one of the singer's biggest hits. And in both cases, the performers wore teased-out wigs and red mini-dresses. However, the punch lines and pacing differed greatly between the two sketches.
Gary was livid. "This is stupid," he wrote. "And we have the means to make people aware of blatant rip offs of other peoples material." Ragland and Condict followed up with posts referring people to their own sketch.
The situation is delicate because, as Gary noted, the Groundlings and "SNL" have had a deeply symbiotic relationship over the years. Many breakout "SNL" cast members have come from the troupe, including Jon Lovitz, Chris Kattan, Cheri Oteri, Phil Hartman and Laraine Newman.
But set-ups aren't really what comedy is about, "SNL" partisans say.
"It's a common idea since Tina Turner is such an iconic figure," a source close to the show said. "The similarities represent parallel thinking in the comedy world."