Last night's episode of SNL, hosted by Louis C.K., pushed all the right buttons. C.K. was his usual caustic self, Alec Baldwin took on additional responsibility without missing a beat, and the show continued its run of success in the Donald Trump era.
But one of the sketches skirted a little close to another piece, this one by comedian Tig Notaro. The piece in question saw Louis calling over a clown to perform for him, just him, as a birthday present to himself. It's funny, a little sad, and completely out of left field.
It's also almost note-for-note exactly a replica of the premise (if not the execution) of this 2015 short film from Tig Notaro. Notaro never says anything in reference to SNL, nor does she even say why she's reposting the video, but fans made the connection on their own.
"For all recent requests: Here is my short film CLOWN SERVICE (based on a true story) that has been screened at Largo at the Coronet 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," Notaro wrote on Facebook. "Please feel free watch and share."
Watch it below.
Now, the two sketches are basically identical. It's somewhat hard to believe that nobody on the SNL writing staff has ever seen or heard about the premise to the short film. But you'll note that Tig said that her sketch was based on a true story. We can't reject the possibility that the SNL sketch was based on the exact same true story, that someone said was close to Tig's film, but the determination was made that the two were different enough in tone that the argument could be made that the sketch was based on a different interpretation of the same material.
That's the most charitable possible reading. We don't know what happened.