If you don’t know Tig Notaro, she’s the out lesbian comedian you may have seen on Conan O’Brian’s show, confidently just pushing a stool across a stage (funnier than it sounds), or on numerous podcasts including her own comedy show, Professor Blastoff. But if you still don’t know her, it’s easily forgiven; her performances in the UK being few and far between and if you’re not an online comedy nerd, you’re liable to miss her. But you should probably remedy this immediately or you’ll be missing out on one of America’s best comedians working today.
For the uninitiated, Tig’s 17 year career has never been hotter and after a four-month period in 2012 full of the most awful things that can happen to a person (pneumonia, contracting C-Dif, going through a break-up, her mother dying unexpectedly and also being diagnosed with breast cancer), things are finally going her way. She didn’t give up on her career and, instead, turned those four months into comedic inspiration; her album Live is a performance she did just a few days after discovering she had breast cancer and the material is funny, sad and just a delight to listen to – cancer comedy, who knew?
Now Tig seems to be in a very different place, both personally and professionally, and last night at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire she barely mentioned her cancer, her mother or any of the awfulness she experienced back then. Appearing in what die-hard fans will recognise as one of her many grandpa sweaters, we were treated to a 50/50 mix of old and new material, including bits on her comedy partner, Kyle Dunnigan, searching for Santa Claus, introducing her girlfriend to her Southern family and getting the world’s most awkward pat-down at the airport. Although, as one of the die-hard fans, I was a little disappointed not to hear her famous Taylor Dayne bit but that’s kind of like saying, “I’m upset this cake is too delicious.”
Her back and forth with the audience was just a joy to watch; seeing absolutely revel in the awkwardness placed upon whomever she was talking to as they tried to keep up with Tig as she pounced on whatever was said then stretching and twisting it into the next joke. Her command over the pace of her material and the space on stage is reminiscent of Stewart Lee but she does so with a confidence all her own; there really is no one quite like Tig.
Known in the states for her deadpan delivery, quick wit and fearlessness, Tig’s onstage persona can be hard to peg at first – she’s cool, calm and takes all the time in the world to tell a story, lulling you into a false sense of security that there will be a barrier of safety between comedian and audience. This is a trick because Tig also welcomes audience participation but it’s the kind that gives you that weird feeling when you’re in a room with a smart and funny person, where you’re never quite sure if you’re going to be part of the joke or the butt of the joke. With Tig, either outcome is welcome.
Meeting Tig after the show where she was selling her albums and t-shirts, she was delightful, friendly and genuinely appreciative of her fans, taking a few seconds to look and talk to people to figure out what she wanted to write to them. Plus, instead of signing her name on items, she signs ‘Tig’s autograph’. Bring on the next UK tour!
Emily is the Community Manager of Dattch as well a part-time film reviewer and full-time cookie monster. She can’t walk in heels, is a cross-breed of Essex girl and Londoner and makes cupcakes like nobody’s business. Find further nonsense from Emily on Twitter @moulder5000