‘SNL’ Has Once Again Been Accused of Stealing an Internet Comedy Sketch

This isn’t the first time that the Scooby-Doo gang has ripped someone’s face off
‘SNL’ Has Once Again Been Accused of Stealing an Internet Comedy Sketch

The 49th season of Saturday Night Live wrapped up this past weekend with host Jake Gyllenhaal, musical guest Sabrina Carpenter and the palpable sense that Lorne Michaels would be in a speeding limo bound for the Hamptons by 1:01 a.m. 

One memorable sketch featured Gyllenhaal and Carpenter as Fred and Daphne from Scooby-Doo, investigating a mystery in a spooky mansion. Also, Sarah Sherman and Mikey Day were perfectly cast as Velma and Shaggy, respectively. The “Shadow Phantom” is predictably revealed to be a bitter old man (James Austin Johnson) who would have gotten away with his crimes if not for those “meddling kids.” But things go south when Fred tries to tear off a second mask, ripping the poor guy’s face clean off, Nicolas Cage-style. Things get even more gruesome from there.

Not everyone was thrilled with the sketch. Some took issue with the fact that it was arguably similar to a 2016 “Nerdist Comedy Short” called Scooby, Don’t, which also found the Scooby-Doo gang reducing a villain’s face to a bloody mess. This time, the monster-turned-regular dude was played by legendary creature performer Doug Jones

There are obviously some key differences between the two sketches, starting with the fact that the Nerdist short doesn’t descend into gory chaos as in SNL’s version. And the joke in Scooby, Don’t is that Daphne is so distracted by her smartphone, she doesn’t realize that the mask has already been pulled off when she starts tugging on the villain’s face, whereas Gyllenhaal’s Fred is just confused and incompetent. 

Still the director of Scooby, Don’t, Andrew Bowser, couldn’t help but point out the similarities on social media, suggesting that he’d “directed this sketch 7 years ago!”

The writer, Ben Mekler, also noted that the sketch had been done before. 

This isn’t the first time that SNL has been accused of lifting material from internet comedy videos either. In 2022, the show was criticized for producing a Charmin Bears-themed sketch that was not unlike one made by YouTuber Joel Haver. Although Haver later stated that he didn’t believe that the similarities between the two sketches were “malicious,” chalking up the controversy to “subconscious borrowing” or a “wild coincidence.” 

But while comedy sketches starring Charmin Bears who have career aspirations beyond wiping their butts are seemingly rare, jokes about the Scooby-Doo characters ripping people’s faces off have been made with some regularity, like in this animated short made by the AOK YouTube channel, which also came out in 2016:

There was even a similar gag in a 2020 episode of Family Guy:

And before all of these parodies, there was this 2011 webcomic from Maneggs:


So it seems less likely that Saturday Night Live copied one sketch specifically, and more that they’re milking a comedic premise that’s been around for over a decade. Which honestly, sounds about right.

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