Tig Notaro is speaking out about “Saturday Night Live” and Louis C.K. “potentially plagiarizing” her short film “Clown Service,” calling their similarities “extremely disappointing.”
CK and the NBC sketch comedy staple recently teamed up on pre-taped skit “Birthday Clown,” which strikes a strong resemblance in premise to Notaro’s earlier and lengthier project.
In both, a depressed, middle-aged(-ish) and apparently single person calls a clown service to their home for a one-on-one cheer-up session. C.K.’s request is for a personal birthday party, while Notaro’s is to help her get over a breakup. A certain amount of hilarity ensues in his, which co-stars Bobby Moynihan as the clown, while hers remains mostly sad throughout.
Perhaps ironically, C.K. has a dark ending, while Notaro’s concludes in a bit more uplifting manner. In a definite bout of irony, “SNL” has actually been accused of ripping off a CK bit in the past.
“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,” Notaro said about this maybe/maybe not coincidence in a statement. “Secondly, Louis C.K. and I have not communicated in any way for nearly a year and a half.”
Making matters a bit weirder, C.K. and Notaro have been collaborators. His website hosted her 2012 standup special, “Live,” in which she famously announced a recent cancer diagnosis. And C.K. is credited as an executive producer on Notaro’s series “One Mississippi.”
“SNL” had no comment on the issue when reached by TheWrap. Reps for Notaro and another for C.K. did not immediately respond to our requests for comment.
Watch C.K.’s version above, and Notaro’s below. Her full statement is at the bottom of this post, including the part where she specifies that no permission was given to use anything from “Clown Service.”
Here’s Notaro’s full statement:
It has been impossible for me to ignore the cacophony of voices reaching out personally and publicly about the potential plagiarizing of my film Clown Service (a film that I screened at Largo in Los Angeles for over a year and it premiered at Vulture’s Comedy Festival in NYC as well as numerous film festivals around the country and I am currently screening on my national tour).
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.
I hesitated to even address any of this, but 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.