Did SNL and Louis C.K. Steal Tig Notaro’s Clown Sketch?

Things might start getting a little awkward on the set of Tig Notaro’s Amazon series, “One Mississippi“. There is a controversy burning its way across the internet that relates to both Tig and Louis C.K., the executive producer of One Mississippi. It involves a digital short that was a part of Saturday Night Live this past weekend when Louis C.K. was hosting the show.

The sketch in question is SNL’s “Birthday Clown” which shows Louis as a depressed man who hopes to lift his sagging spirits by hiring a kids birthday party clown to come to his house to perform for him, no kids, no party, just for him. Similarities are now being drawn between Saturday Night Live‘s “Birthday Clown” and a short film that Tig Notaro wrote, produced and starred in called “Clown Service” back in 2015. The premise of the two shorts is basically the same. A severely depressed person is desperate for a few laughs and as a last resort hires a children’s party clown to come over and perform. The subtle difference might be that Tig Notaro’s piece is much darker with a scarier, more disturbed looking clown.

Tig Notaro addressed the situation in a statement that can be found at the Hollywood Reporter site. She wrote, “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,”. She also admitted that she has not actually spoken to Louis C.K. in about a year’s time.

While she didn’t yell that this was outright plagiarism by Saturday Night Live or Louis C.K., Tig did offer some evidence in that direction, saying, “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.”

You can watch both clown shorts below and come to your own conclusions and see if Saturday Night Live is complicit in stealing from Tig Notaro. She did call the situation disappointing and what makes it extra disappointing is that the “Birthday Clown” sketch was the one moment that got positive recognition in our review of SNL last weekend when we wrote that “Birthday Clown” provided “the one genuine highlight of the night. In the context of the rest of the show“.

Tig Notaro’s Clown Service

SNL’s Birthday Clown starring Louis C.K.

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