Both comedians have pieces featuring depressed people and clowns

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When Louis C.K. returned to host Saturday Night Live for the fourth time this past weekend, he appeared in a short as a depressed man who orders a birthday clown to perform just for him. The piece, above, was funny and even a little creepy (it ends with C.K. promising to take Bobby Moynihan’s clown into the kitchen so he can “chop you up into little pieces and put you in the fridge”), but for some fans, it bore a strong resemblance to another comedian’s work: Tig Notaro’s short film Clown Service, below.

Like “Birthday Clown,” Clown Service portrays a down-in-the-dumps protagonist ordering a clown to their house for some much-needed cheering up. Though the basic setup is similar, the execution is not: Whereas C.K.’s bit ends with serial killer undertones, Notaro’s piece has a happy ending where she and her clown bond over their miserable lives.

Nevertheless, some fans have called C.K.’s version “a rip-off.” (Reps for SNL, C.K., and Notaro did not immediately reply to EW’s request for comment.) Although Notaro has not publicly commented on the matter, she did repost Clown Service on her Twitter feed the day after SNL aired.

Notaro and C.K. have worked together before: He posted her legendary 2012 standup set Live on his website and is an executive producer for her show One Mississippi.

Read on for more reactions to the SNL piece.

Episode Recaps

Saturday Night Live - Season 42

Saturday Night Live

The original late-night comedy sketch show from the one and only Lorne Michaels.

  • TV Show
  • 46
  • TV-14
  • Saturdays at 11:30 PM
  • Lorne Michaels
  • NBC
stream service