Entertainment

SNL's Prophet Muhammad sketch is a lot like old 22 Minutes joke

SNL is taking heat for a controversial sketch from Saturday's broadcast that plays on the danger of drawing the Prophet Muhammad, but it's remarkably similar to an earlier punchline on CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

'Picture Perfect' sketch very similar to joke that aired on CBC comedy show back in January

Comedian Kenan Thompson plays an actor asked to draw the Prophet Muhammad in a Win, Lose or Draw-style game show in an SNL sketch called Picture Perfect. The punchline is remarkably similar to a joke made by 22 Minutes comedians in a sketch aired on the CBC in January. (NBC)

Saturday Night Live is taking some heat for a controversial sketch from this weekend's broadcast that plays on the danger of depicting the Prophet Muhammed, but it appears the NBC sketch comedy show may have stolen the punchline from CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

The SNL sketch, titled "Picture Perfect," featured host Reese Witherspoon and Bobby Moynihan on a team in a Win, Lose, or Draw-style game show. But things get awkward when Moynihan is asked to draw the Prophet Muhammed for the grand prize of $1 million.

SNL is taking heat for a controversial sketch from Saturday's broadcast that plays on the danger of drawing the Prophet Muhammad, but it's remarkably similar to an earlier punchline from CBC's 22 Minutes. 3:46

"C'mon honey," Witherspoon's character pleads, "you can draw it!"

"I don't think I can," Moynihan responds. "Maybe [I can] pass?" he asks before handing the marker off to another teammate, played by Kenan Thompson.

When he too refuses to draw the clue, Witherspoon's character guesses it's the Prophet Muhammed.

The controversial sketch comes just weeks after a deadly shooting at a Texas cartoon contest which offered a $10,000 prize for the best depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.

According to mainstream Islamic tradition, any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad — even a respectful one — is considered blasphemous, and drawings similar to those featured at the Texas event have sparked violence around the world.

Striking similarities

Despite the timing, the SNL sketch is remarkably similar to a joke made by This Hour Has 22 Minutes in a sketch aired on the CBC in January. 

In the 22 Minutes version, comedian Mark Critch plays the reluctant Win, Lose or Draw contestant asked to draw the contentious clue. 

"Please don't make me do this," his character begs the host, played by Shaun Majumder. "Am I allowed to pass?"

Just like the SNL version, his partner (played by Susan Kent) surmises what he's been asked to do and wins the $1 million prize.

The similarities weren't lost on Critch or Majumder, who both tweeted out a link to news story comparing the sketches, but Majumder went a little further.

"Wow if only we could steal some of their budget," tweeted the 43-year-old comedian, with the hashtag "GreatMindsThinkAlike."

"I think both pieces are important satirical comedy with two different audiences," he continued, apparently taking some of the heat off his American comedian cousins.

The long-running satirical series is currently in its 22nd season on CBC.

With files from The Associated Press

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