Saturday Night Live has come under fire this week for allegedly ripping off a short film by Tig Notaro. The sketch in question, titled “Birthday Clown,” was a pre-taped short that aired during Louis C.K.’s episode over the weekend, and since then, many Tig Notaro fans have pointed out a striking similarity between the sketch and Notaro’s 2015 short film Clown Service, which she had been developing since way back in 2012 when she launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the 13-minute short.
While the sketch and the short aren’t exactly alike, Notaro released a statement to Entertainment Weekly today about it, and, well, she’s not happy. While it seems highly unlikely that C.K. – who produces Notaro’s Amazon show and released her Live album on his website – would knowingly rip off her work, Notaro points out in her statement that she and C.K. “have not communicated in any way for nearly a year and a half.”
Here’s the 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.
Check out SNL’s sketch and Notaro’s short below and judge for yourself: