Tig Notaro Is Cancer-Free and Wants to Tell Jokes in Your Living Room

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Mon, Jul 15, 2013 at 10:30 AM
click to enlarge Tig Notaro - RUTHIE WYATT
  • Ruthie Wyatt
  • Tig Notaro

The last year and a half has literally been the best of times and the worst of times for comedienne Tig Notaro. Last summer, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, lost her mother and broke up with her girlfriend all within the span of four months. Fortunately, the combination of these tragic occurrences culminated in a wealth of creative energy, which was exhibited on stage last August in a legendary stand-up set at Largo in Los Angeles.

Louis CK called the set "one of the greatest stand-up performances I ever saw" and released it as an album on his website soon after to an overwhelmingly positive response. By years end, Tig Notaro's Live was voted the #1 stand-up album of the year by The A.V. Club, topping releases from veterans like Jim Gaffigan and even CK himself.

Live will finally see a physical release this week -- marked by Notaro doing a Q&A tonight at the Grammy Museum -- but her recent surge in popularity has afforded her a number of other opportunities, including two documentaries, a book deal and a writing gig on Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer. Before starting on her just-announced tour documentary for Showtime next month, Notaro will celebrate the one-year anniversary of her storied performance with a headlining date at Largo. We recently spoke with her about her current projects, her entry into stand-up comedy and getting thrown off set for making her co-stars laugh.

What was it like working on the first season of Inside Amy Schumer? Will you be back next year?

No, I kind of don't have time to anymore. I couldn't make it work, so I'm just gonna be doing my own stuff. It was a great experience though. It was my first "go to an office everyday" type job.

Can you tell us about your new tour documentary for Showtime that was just announced?

Well I'm doing this thing where I go to my fan's homes and I'm doing a tour in living rooms, backyards, barns, basements and rooftops. I start filming that at the beginning of next month, but I don't know when it airs.

The executive producer is gathering the information, and then I'm going to review the tapes that come in. I think they're gonna select some and then show them to me and I'll pick where we go. I'm looking forward to it. Just the cooler, the weirder the place, the sooner I think I'll be there.

Have you done anything like this before? It seems like the logistics might be sort of complicated.

I've done it as a tour in the past and it's so much fun. When I did it on the road, somebody books me to go to their house and it's up to them to invite their friends. Then it's a suggested donation of 20 dollars at the door.

I read that one of the things that inspired you to try stand-up was seeing so many open mics and shows advertised in L.A. Weekly.

Well, I was coming from Denver at the time. Denver, they just have the club and the open mic in a Mexican restaurant. It was kind of daunting, but people are shocked that I started stand-up in L.A. They're like "God, you're so brave. I made sure I got things together in my town before I went out there."

To me, that sounds horrible to just have no options to do stand-up and then try to get it together to go to L.A., rather than just starting at laundromats and coffee shops and bars, which are the options in L.A.. As soon as I decided I wanted to actually start doing it two weeks into being there, I just had so many options. But when you're getting started, that's all you need -- a laundromat with a microphone.

Prior to trying stand-up comedy, though, you were managing bands in Denver. Did you always picture yourself working in the music business?

I was just managing some local bands in Denver, anywhere from rock to the singer-songwriter type thing. I play guitar and I thought that I would maybe be playing in bands, but then I kind of had stage fright. I always wanted to be around music, though, so I just started working on the business side of things. I thought I was really into it, but I always wanted to do stand-up, so once I started doing stand-up I couldn't even pretend like I cared about anything other than that.

That crossover between comedy and music seems to be more and more prevalent these days.

Yeah, it's weird because my record label [Secretly Canadian] is an indie-rock label and then my booking agent is now strictly booking comedy, but before he only booked indie rock bands. So no matter what I do, it just seems like I'm still in the music world. I do all of these comedy and music festivals so there's constant crossover. But it's nice because when my albums come out, there are reviews in magazines like Rolling Stone and stuff. I think the association with music kind of gets me into some weird doors.

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