One of the best sketches from this week’s Louis C.K.-hosted SNL involved the Horace and Pete creator playing — get this — a depressed man who hires a clown to entertain him, and only him. If that premise sounds familiar, then you’ve seen Tig Notaro’s “Clown Service,” a short film about a depressed woman who hires a clown to entertain her, and only her. “Birthday Clown” and “Clown Service” are both darkly funny, although one has a happy ending while the other concludes with a clown being chopped to bits. But despite the divergent conclusions, Tig’s fans are accusing SNL of ripping off her work.
Now, before One Mississippi viewers storm 30 Rock with pitchforks and torches, there are two things to keep in mind: a) “Birthday Clown” and “Clown Service” have a similar premise, but the execution is different, and b) Tig and Louis C.K. are friends. He released her instantly legendary set, Live, on his website, writing at the time, “In 27 years doing this, I’ve seen a handful of truly great, masterful standup sets. One was Tig Notaro last night.” (He’s also listed as an executive producer for One Mississippi.) It’s extremely unlikely that C.K. would knowingly plagiarize another comedian, especially after the whole Dane Cook… thing. For her part, Notaro has yet to directly comment on the SNL sketch, although she did write the following on Facebook.