Until a couple of years ago, Tig Notaro was a moderately successful comedienne surviving on a regime of stand-up shows, TV spots, Film cameos and her touring podcast Professor Blastoff. And then during March of 2012, everything completely changed.
Whilst filming In a World… she started to feel ill and eventually got diagnosed with a rare bacterial infection illness known as C DIFF; then as she was recovering from that she found out her mother had fallen and unexpectedly died; and then to top it all off, she was suddenly diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer… so after so much bad news she made the only sensible decision: She would fight fire, with funny. On the night of 4th August 2012 she decided to tell her story on stage, for laughs, and instantly make comedy history…
Firstly, it is completely impossible not to fall in love with Tig’s eponymous character. Tig manages to articulate her concurrent tragedies with dignity and a touching introspection that maybe only a hardened stand-up could accomplish. It isn’t hard to see why some of America’s current comedy luminaries (Louis C.K, Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis) as well as liberal cultural icons (Ira Glass, Jimmy Kimmel) adore her.
Before, and throughout, the darkest points of her illnesses, Tig expressed her desire to have a biological child one day. Given that she is gay, the filmmakers follow her enlisting an old friend of hers to donate some sperm and then on to her quest to find a surrogate for IVF. It is during this process that she meets Stephanie Allynne and begins to fall in love with her sense of humour and charm: the messages that they exchange are utterly adorable…
It is interesting that the last decade has seen a real rise in the deconstruction of the art of comedy. Some people would say that to explain a joke is to ruin it, but a number of interesting shows, documentaries, round-tables and blogs are starting to reveal the practice and format of stand-up humour in such a way as to make it funnier and richer – a veritable craft. For those viewers who are interested, documentaries such as Tig give an insight into the craft of comedy without deflating the artist in the process. And if this sounds pretentious and gratuitous, then the humble charisma of Notaro will win you over without needing to reflect on her stagecraft.
The night that Tig announced her illness on stage at the Largo will rightly go down in comedy history, but it is the quality of the material rather than the content that should be truly remembered. And who else has ever been heckled with shouts of “This is fucking amazing” and begs to keep going from crying audience members.
Tig is amazing and is now available on Netflix