Saturday Night Live and its most recent host, comedian Louis C.K., are in hot water with fans after some noticed the show’s hilarious dark clown-centric sketch, “Birthday Clown,” was awfully similar to comedian Tig Notaro’s 2015 short film “Clown Service.”
Notaro’s film is about a depressed woman who hires a clown to entertain her—and her alone. In his sketch, C.K. is the depressed man. The endings of the two pieces are very different, but the premise is clearly the same.
The ending and execution are different, but the overall premise is the same, and SNL watchers definitely noticed the similarities.
SNL skit last night with a sad Louie CK hiring a clown is a rip-off of Tig Notaro's short film. #ideapoaching
— LEX🍅 (@gjurasicpark) April 9, 2017
If Tig Notaro didn't sign off on this Louie CK and SNL have a LOT of explaining to do. https://t.co/kP92yMqgKV
— Joe Rhodes (@earlkabong) April 9, 2017
That last tweet in particular gets at an important question: Was it intentionally similar? C.K. and Notaro are very familiar with each other, with C.K. having hosted her incredible cancer set on his website for exclusive pre-release. It would’ve been difficult to execute this sketch in good faith without Notaro’s explicit blessing, but no statement has been made by either comedian or Saturday Night Live.
This isn’t the first incidence of comedians allegedly borrowing ideas from other comedians, by any stretch. Most recently, someone pointed out the similarities between an Amy Schumer joke and one by Zach Galifianakis.
In any case, we’re grateful to both comedians for bringing a little joy to our lives this Monday.
Update 12:01pm CT, April 13: Notaro has released a statement about the sketches.