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Louis C.K.'s SNL Sketch Has One Huge Problem

Chloe Stillwell is a culture critic and freelance journalist working out of Nashville. She has a writing degree from the New School, and is a UCB-trained comedian.

Louis C.K. is under fire for joke theft in latest SNL episode

I’m probably going to draw some hate mail for saying this, but I mean it with my whole heart anyway: Tig Notaro > Louis C.K. Both are pretty universally loved comics at the moment. C.K. is about as famous as one comedian can be, and his powers within the entertainment industry essentially know no bounds. Notaro is in no way struggling, however. Her show One Mississippi (of which C.K. is an executive producer) has been wildly successful, as well as her HBO special, her current tour and her highly anticipated upcoming book. But at the same time, Notaro is a bit more of a niche name than C.K. That's why it’s pretty fucked up that he copied her short film in a recent SNL sketch.

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The premise is dark, simple and brilliant in its ability to find comedy in misery — so very Notaro, if you’re familiar with her work. In the short film, we find her depressed on a couch, deciding to desperately con a clown into coming to her house for a “party,” to try and cheer her up. Hilarity ensues, of course. The shorter SNL sketch basically boils down Notaro’s film, changing little but the players in the scene. See for yourself:

CLOWN SERVICE from Tig Notaro on Vimeo.

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Notaro herself even spoke out about the intellectual theft in an exclusive statement to Entertainment Weekly. She referenced the sketch as “extremely disappointing” and alleged that a “'writer/director' who she says was fully aware of Clown Service also worked on the C.K. short." Notaro added that the two comics “have not communicated in any way for nearly a year and a half.”

More: Oops! Louis C.K. Wasn't Defending Daniel Tosh After All

Despite C.K. being nearly universally loved — and I can admit I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his standup before — he is a very problematic figure. That’s often swept under the rug or even overlooked by many. Rape culture and misogyny are a bit of a parasite on the comedy community (see: rape jokes divide). But it should be noted that C.K. is rumored to be a toxic perpetrator of sexual assault of fellow comics, allegedly silencing them afterward by threatening to hurt their careers. Again, it has not been proven, and outside of a vague podcast story from Jen Kirkman, which has since been taken down, only anonymously accused to Gawker. But for such a rumor to exist should give everyone pause. It seems that this is another case of sexism derailing comedy, with a man clearly thinking he has the right to steal from a woman, be it consent in a sexual situation or the exact plot of her recent short film.

Do you think Louis C.K.'s SNL sketch was wrong? Tell us in the comments!

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