Friday, May 20, 2016

Tig Notaro. The Funniest Comedienne You've Never Heard Of.

Tig Notaro at Bumbershoot
So around 6:00am, when I usually leave for the day, to wake up, I've got coffee in hand, an ambivalent attitude towards waking life, and my Pandora shuffle on. Not proud of this, but a lot of my channels are stand up comedy-centric. Patton Oswalt, Kumail Nanjiani, Iliza Shlesinger etc. On one such occasion, someone came on my shuttle who's voice, delivery and punchlines seemed totally unique to me, even though at that point I'd heard it all. 
I looked down at my shuffle and it told me it was playing a segment from Tig Notaro's special, called 'Taylor Dane'. And let me tell you I almost doubled over laughing. Her routine was unlike anything I had heard before. I know a lot of writers, a lot of comics, and they all govern their routines by the idea that there is a long build up to a punch line. The greater the punch line, the more elaborate the build up. Tig seemed to speak just as if she was having a conversation, in a very recognizable, 'so what' delivery style, as if she was having a personal conversation with you, and not trolling for laughs. My father always used to say that it was the person with nothing to say that projected the loudest, and when the person who actually knew what they were talking about started to speak, they always did it softly and slowly, so that everyone brought their own vigor down so they could hear the words. Such is the case with Tig Notaro. 
Tig's album (Good One) now available on iTunes and Spotify
I didn't know anything about her at the time, so I did my wiki research, and turns out this woman, in her early 40's had been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer. I can't remember how much time she was given, but it wasn't a lot. She had an act to do at Largo in Los Angeles, and instead of canceling, being the bold brash force that she was decided to go out there and just talk about it. In the best and most humorous way you can do. It's perhaps the ballsiest thing I've heard a performer do. 'Good evening, hello. I have cancer, how are ya?' the set starts. Many of her comic friends were in the audience, Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis among them, and even they couldn't believe their ears. Her performance that night was instantly considered legendary and overnight this fringe comedienne had become a sensation. She was interviewed by everyone and their mother, and shone a light on the absolute hell that it is to try to be funny in the face of perhaps the most devastating thing that can happen to someone. 
Tig and her wife Stephanie.
Within some time, she had a double mastectomy and removed all traces of the cancer that was ravaging her body. She also got married to a lovely women who played her love interest in In a World... 
Netflix (bless them) has recently started to stream a documentary about her simply guessed it; Tig. In it, she chronicles everything that I just told you about, compounded with the sorrow of losing her mother and trying to conceive one with her wife although taking hormones was in her words 'like throwing a match on the fire' of the dormant cancer that had ravaged her body for years. 
Although she's not on many people's radar, every comic (in particular Louis CK) have nothing but the utmost admiration and respect for Tig, and aside everything that she's been through and is still going through, she is still one of the funniest comics that's out there. Not just women comics. I immediately recognized it, and I hope you will to. Gawd, I never get this sincere or mushy about a topic, and I'd like to lighten the mood. So watch some of the clips below. FWI the Conan O'Brien bit was NOT staged. And check out the aforementioned film on Netflix. 

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