Arts preview: Tig Notaro on getting comfy with her mastectomy and her newfound love of minivans
It's not unusual for a comedian to squeeze humor out of a bad situation, but few comedians squeeze so many laughs out of horrific personal tragedies as Tig Notaro. After a 2012 breast cancer diagnosis, Notaro went onstage at the comedy club Largo in Los Angeles and performed a now-legendary set that began, "Good evening. Hello. I have cancer."
And it wasn't just cancer. Notaro also lost her mother in a freak accident and battled a potentially life-threatening intestinal disease. And yet, she was killing it onstage.
Notaro eventually had a double mastectomy without reconstructive surgery (her cancer has since been in remission). She met her wife, actress Stephanie Allynne, on the set of the 2013 movie "In a World," and in June Allynne gave birth to the couple's twin sons, Max and Finn. Meanwhile, Notaro's star continues to rise.One Mississippi, a six-episode Amazon TV show based on her life, debuted this fall, and she also released a new memoir (I'm Just a Person) on the heels of an Emmy-nominated HBO standup special ("Boyish Girl Interrupted") and a Netflix documentary ("Tig").
Notaro will bring a new standup set to the Davidson Theatre, formerly Capitol Theatre, on Sunday, Oct. 16. "I'm working it all out. I think [the material] is getting to a good place," Notaro said during a recent phone call. "The last 20 minutes of my show is probably the silliest thing I've ever done."
Notaro also relayed her thoughts on some other topics.
On the moment she became a mother
When the first baby came out, and the doctor handed him to me, and I was going over to take him to the little heating lamp for the nurses to clean him, I didn't feel an attachment to him. I didn't really understand, even though I was emotional when he was coming out. When I was bringing him over I thought I was just bringing a baby over. And then when I really looked at him, I was just like, "Oh, wait a minute, you are myson." It hit me pretty quickly. I have to say, it's one of the most natural experiences and transitions I've ever experienced. I love it so, so much.
On her new obsession with minivans
I'm not much of a car person. I've had the same car for the past 10 years. I just don't care about them. But my new fixation is the minivan. It's been kind of a contentious thing between me and Stephanie, whereas typically we really get along well. That's just something where she's mortified. But to me, it's like, this makes the most sense. It's comfort and safety and all these things that were not a part of my life before. [The Honda Odyssey] is my dream car.
On living with extended family in Los Angeles
The house directly across the street from us is Stephanie's mother and sister, and then our guest house in the backyard is her brother and his girlfriend. So we have separate living situations, but we're all within a stone's throw. In fact when I called you, Stephanie's mother was just leaving. She had come over to have coffee and see the babies. So there's just a lot of meals and going to the grocery store together. And always knowing who's coming or going. People make fun of us when they're over and we're looking out the window going, "Oh, Maggie's back from the grocery store." Her family is very close, and I'm close with her family. We feel lucky.
On playing herself in a TV show
I feel like it's just me. I don't even know if it's a version of myself, even if the story is a version of my life. I don't consider myself an actor. There wasn't some process I was trying to figure out or go through. I was just trying to remember all the lines and do my best. Every scene I went into I thought, "How would I deal with this?"
On getting comfortable with her post-mastectomy body
Anytime I thought, "I'm comfortable," something would happen, and I'd be like, "Oh, I'm not comfortable." Wearing a tight T-shirt and my chest being completely flat, I would have some insecurity in the beginning of people glancing at my chest and thinking that it was odd that it was so flat. That would make me uncomfortable. And then romantically, just thinking of people seeing my body, and being concerned that they're just putting up with it, ya know? Like they're just being nice.
Being with somebody who thinks I am attractive, I think that feeds into my confidence. The romantic element - exposing my body to somebody else and being greeted with nothing but positivity - is helpful for me. Then, as a comedian, taking it into my performance and getting feedback from people who aren't just cancer survivors or women but people who are thinking, "This is so great for anybody and for body image."
On comedy as therapy
Everything is therapeutic. Telling my story. Taking my shirt off. Sharing my experience with people. People sharing their experience with me. It's all just a cycle of healing and processing. I can't believe how available complete strangers have been for me. In turn, I've really tried to give my time and money to charities. As much as there's rotten humans everywhere you look, there's so much goodness.
8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16
77 S. High St., Downtown