The sketch in question was called “Birthday Clown” and starred host Louis C.K. as a sad man who hires a clown to cheer him up. It was a fairly similar premise to Tig Notaro’s “Clown Service,” though hers has a much different ending, and we also learn a little more about the clown in her sketch.
In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Notaro said the incident was “extremely disappointing” and that she knows at least one SNL writer who knew about her 2015 sketch who worked on the Louis C.K. sketch.
Here’s the 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.
Louis C.K. and SNL have not yet responded.