One of the funnier sketches from this week’s edition of Saturday Night Live came when host Louis C.K. played a guy who hires a clown — played by Bobby Moynahan — who slowly comes to realize that there are no children at the birthday party at which he’s performing, just one middle-aged dude.
The sketch ends on a hilariously creepy note when C.K.’s character leads his clown companion into the kitchen so he can “chop you up into little pieces and put you in the fridge.”
While the sketch was generally well received, fans of standup comic Tig Notaro are quick to point out that the premise is nearly identical to a short film she wrote, directed and starred in, titled Clown Service.
— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) April 9, 2017
In her film — which she says is based on actual events — a depressed Notaro calls up a service and orders a clown to come over to her house in hopes it’ll cheer her up.
As it turns out, the clown she hires is just as depressed as she is, and they wind up bonding over their shared misery (unlike the SNL sketch, there are no serial-killer overtones).
Notaro’s fans quickly took to Twitter to accuse SNL of stealing her concept, with comments including the accusation that the sketch is a “straight-up rip-off.”
Watching #SNL like…this clown sketch, it's almost like I've seen it before. Oh wait I have when Tig Notaro made a short "Clown Service"
— Alexandra Gallant (@Gallantdesigner) April 9, 2017
What's with Louie CK doing Tig's clown bit on @nbcsnl? Straight up rip-off.
— cynthia hall (@chp35mm) 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
SNL skit last night with a sad Louie CK hiring a clown is a rip-off of Tig Notaro's short film. #ideapoaching
— Lex Gjurasic (@gjurasicpark) April 9, 2017
In any case, don’t expect the sketch to cause any bad blood between the two comics; C.K. is actually an executive producer on Notaro’s Amazon Prime series One Mississippi. And while Notaro hasn’t commented on the similarity between her film and the SNL sketch, it can’t be coincidental that she tweeted out the Clown Service video on Twitter the day after the sketch aired on TV.
— TIG NOTARO (@TigNotaro) April 10, 2017