The first sketch, titled “The Pumpkin Patch,” is about a pumpkin patch where the employees take part in sexual intercourse with the pumpkins. However, comedians Nick Ruggia and Ryan Hoffman claim SNL stole the sketch from them.
The two are founders of the sketch troupe Temple Horses. They’ve been working together since 2011, and many of their sketches can be watched on their YouTube channel. Ruggia and Hoffman allege that in addition to the pumpkin patch sketch—theirs is titled “Not Trying to Fuck This Pumpkin”—SNL also plagiarized a second sketch, which the duo titled “Pet Blinders.”
“Imagine, one day you come home and it looks like somebody’s robbed your house,” Hoffman told Variety. “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.”
A source told Variety that the two sketches were written by different writers, neither of which were identified.
In a letter sent to NBC in February, Ruggi and Hoffman’s attorney Wallace Neel outlined the purported similarities between Temple Horses’ sketches and SNL’s. For the pumpkin patch sketch, each begins with the protagonist pumpkin patch owner at his business. Then, the owner challenges a group of multiple men and one woman, claiming they are engaging inappropriately with his pumpkins. In both sketches, the owner points out that there are children close by, and the perpetrators are banned from the pumpkin patch.
Ruggia and Hoffman made their sketch available on YouTube in October 2014, four years prior to SNL airing its version.
The attorney also outlined the similarities between Temple Horses’ “Pet Blinders” sketch and SNL’s, titled “Pound Puppy.” Temple Horse uploaded their sketch to YouTube in September 2011, while SNL’s aired their sketch last month.
Ruggio and Hoffman shared that an NBC attorney responded to Neel's letter that, sharing that an internal investigation found that the writers of SNL’s sketches had created those concepts independently of Temple Horses’, and “found no similarities to the Temple Horses sketches that would be protected by copyright law,” Variety writes.
“This is not ‘parallel construction’: Two separate instances of wholesale lifting of concept, setting, characters, plot, and outcome in the same season do not happen by coincidence,” Neel wrote in the Feb. 27 letter, adding, “Someone(s) at SNL is plagiarizing material.”
In both instances, Ruggia and Hoffman found out about the plagiarism from friends the day after SNL aired the sketches. When “The Pumpkin Patch” premiered in October, they both saw how similar it was to their sketch, but ultimately decided to do nothing.
“We felt like nothing good would come from addressing it, and also we were afraid of potential repercussions, and we were kind of afraid of being dismissed by our peers, even though everyone we showed it to said it was blatant,” Hoffman said. “So we decided to let it go.”
But when “Pound Puppy” aired, the two decided enough was enough. “It was twice in the same season, and we felt that at this point, that we didn’t really have a choice but to address it,” Hoffman said. “And we don’t really want to be involved in a mess like this, but there’s a certain point you have to stand up for yourself and your work.”
“In an ideal world, we’d get what all artists want: attribution and compensation,” Ruggia said. “We tried to settle this amicably and quietly, but we feel like the mechanisms for dealing with this in comedy really need to change. These situations arise way too frequently.”