Joey Grihalva

The Lighter Side of Tig Notaro

The breast cancer survivor known for her utter frankness was simply funny at Turner Hall.

By - Oct 24th, 2014 11:07 am
Tig Notaro

Tig Notaro. Photo courtesy of the Pabst.

There was no need for Tig Notaro to guilt us into giving her a standing ovation last night at Turner Hall, but the fact that she did, and the way that she did it, only made it more worth giving. The veteran comic, comedy writer, breast cancer survivor, actor, podcast host and all-around awesome lady slayed the audience  in a tight set that came in just under an hour. Once known for her awkward, nervous stage presence, Tig was nothing but cool, calm, and confident. You have to wonder if the brush with death loosened her up, or if it’s a result of nearly two decades in the business; probably both.

Opening the show was Minnesota-native Kjell Bjorgen, who took me back to my days in Minneapolis, where he would often middle at Acme Comedy Club. A bit about being so annoyed with children that he felt compelled to drive drunk on Halloween was so wrong, but felt so right for someone whose day job is working with school kids. I may use Bjorgen’s sneezing in their face technique when trying to get the kids’ attention.

Any negative vibes lingering under the ballroom’s charmingly cracked ceiling from John Hodgman’s so-so set on Monday night were eviscerated by Tig’s perfectly paced, playful performance. She came out quite serious, immediately launching into a story and complimenting us on being such a focused audience, which was a part of her game. She then explained her intention of seeing how long she could talk without a punch line, a tip of the hat to all those crowds that didn’t get her. This blended into a blistering bit about trying to fill the time between her early and late shows during a week in Vegas (where she bombed).

When Tig mentioned that she is originally from Mississippi she began an interaction with the audience that reached its peak when she played with the delivery and inflection of “That’s What She Said.” This opened the door for over-eager crowd participation, but she handled the unnecessary contributions like a pro. It was almost as if she invited it. During that bit she also pulled off a brilliant fake ending.

Up until her breast cancer scare, Tig was probably best known as a writer and character on The Sarah Silverman Show. When Louis CK promoted her legendary “Live” recording in 2012, her fan base got a big boost. This show was one date in her Boyish Girl Interrupted Tour 2014, which she promised the media, would not be “heavy” or “intense.”  That said, she still has a killer bit about her double mastectomy.

Tig brought levity and music to the end of her performance, as the audience belted out “Yellow Submarine” while she portrayed the first time Ringo Starr sang the song for his wife. Then she shared how she used (and played from her cell phone) the beginning of The Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” to pull one over on the coolest kid in school. At this point in her career, when Tig asks for a standing ovation, she gets what she wants.

0 thoughts on “Comedy: The Lighter Side of Tig Notaro”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’d read about Tig Notaro in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and wondered what her act would be like (had previous plans). Now that it’s two years later since the beginning of her cancer problem she seems to be doing so well, and talking about her cancer onstage probably gained her more recognition than she had before!

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