In a statement released to Entertainment Weekly, Notaro said she finds the situation “extremely disappointing.” She also wrote that she had no communication with C.K. for almost a year and a half prior to the release of the skit, and that no one asked her permission to use any material from the film.
She also adds that, to her knowledge, one of the writer/directors who worked on C.K.’s “SNL” skit had definitive knowledge of her film during its production.
The similarity between the two pieces is primarily in set-up, as both feature depressed people, played by Notaro and C.K., who invite clowns into their home to perform solely for them. In C.K.’s version, the skit takes a dark turn at the end as it’s implied that his character is a serial killer with the clown set to be the next victim, whereas Notaro’s has a positive ending in which she and the clown bond over their disappointing lives.
The episode that featured “Birthday Clown” marked C.K.’s fourth time hosting the NBC staple.
C.K.’s Pig Newton banner is the producer of Notaro’s Amazon comedy series “One Mississippi.”
Here’s Notaro’s full statement.
“It has been impossible for me to ignore the cacophony of voices reaching out personally and publicly about the potential plagiarizing of my film Clown Service (a film that I screened at Largo 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).
While I don’t know how all this actually happened, I did find it extremely disappointing.
Here is what I can tell you:
First off, I have recently learned that a writer/director who was fully aware of Clown Service when I was making it, actually worked on Louis C.K.’s clown sketch that is in question.
Secondly, Louis C.K. and I have not communicated in any way for nearly a year and a half.
And finally, I never gave anyone permission to use anything from my film.
I hesitated to even address any of this, but I think it is only right to defend my work and ideas and moving forward, I plan to continue screening Clown Service with the joy and pride I always have.“
Watch the two videos below.