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Did 'SNL' Steal Tig Notaro's Birthday Clown Sketch?

By Emily Chambers | Social Media | April 10, 2017 |


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A few days ago, in an unimportant Overlord conversation, I was able to make the crack that “It’s OK. I’m only using Jesus to get to his dad.” There is no humanly way that I am the first or last person to make this joke, but I still thought it was a pretty good joke. I bring this up partly to remind you of how funny I can be at times, and mostly to illustrate that comedy has a lot of recurring themes. Sometimes there are blatant cases of joke stealing, but sometimes people just find the same shit amusing.

We can’t be sure yet what was the case of SNL v. Tig Notaro Clown Service Movies, but we do know three important things:

1) This Isn’t Louis CK’s Fault

This is less a defense of Louis CK, and more a defense of reality itself. If this was a case of joke stealing, the SNL writer responsible for the skit is at fault, not Mr. CK. At best you could argue that he should have been following fellow comedian Notaro’s career more closely than he is, but only if you remember that the counterargument is “Oh, Come On!” I love Tig Notaro, and I didn’t know about her short film. Hell, I love the ever-loving shit out of Pajiba, and I still remember the horror I felt when I realized I’d posted about garbage sequel Monsters: Dark Continent mere days after our own Steven Lloyd Wilson covered it. Sometimes things slip by. CK didn’t write the skit, he isn’t responsible for not being the Comedy Plagiarism Police.

2) Alternatively, It Is Louis CK’s Fault But He Got Notaro’s Blessing

Notaro and Mr. CK know each other very well. Louis produced her comedy special. He hosted her legendary cancer set exclusively on his site for pre-release. Maybe he was very aware of the birthday clown sketch, and he asked Notaro if he could borrow the idea. She likely would have given him her blessing.

3) Notaro’s Film Is Better

Exhibit A -

Like Dustin said, it’s good sold mostly by Bobby Moynihan’s delivery. But it’s (by necessity) not as fleshed out as Notaro’s. And personally, I like Notaro’s ending significantly more than SNL’s.

Exhibit B (and clear winner) -

At the very least, let’s hope we get a couple of good things out of the maybe-controversy: Tig Notaro lets more people know how awesome she is, and everyone agrees clowns are still creepy.


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