Tig Notaro Calls ‘SNL’ Louis C.K. Clown Sketch Rip-Off ‘Disappointing’
Louis C.K.’s SNL return went smoothly enough, until Tig Notaro fans noticed some striking similarities between a prerecorded “Birthday Clown” sketch, and Notaro’s own “Clown Service” short. It might have been an earnest mistake, but Notaro now speaks out against SNL, calling the apparent rip “extremely disappointing.”
The sketch in question saw C.K.’s character hiring a birthday clown (Bobby Moynihan), and subsequently revealing that no other guests would be present for the show. Fans were quick to point out the resemblance with Notaro’s 13-minute “Clown Service” short, which veers in a different direction, but nonetheless starts with a similar premise.
Notaro somewhat addressed the matter in posting her short to Facebook, but now tells Entertainment Weekly she takes issue with the apparent plagiarism:
While I don’t know how all this actually happened, I did find it extremely disappointing.
Here is what I can tell you:
First off, I have recently learned that a writer/director who was fully aware of Clown Service when I was making it, actually worked on Louis C.K.’s clown sketch that is in question.
Secondly, Louis C.K. and I have not communicated in any way for nearly a year and a half.
And finally, I never gave anyone permission to use anything from my film.
The sketch was penned by BriTANick writers Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney, along with Will Stephen. Many presumed that C.K. wouldn’t have participated if it meant offending Notaro (he produces Notaro’s Amazon series One Mississippi, and hosted her special on his website), though it remains unclear if he had any awareness of “Clown Service.”
Notaro also noted her concern with addressing the matter outright, but added “I think it is only right to defend my work and ideas and moving forward, I plan to continue screening Clown Service with the joy and pride I always have.”
We’ve reached out to SNL for comment, and will update with any response.
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