Comedienne Tig Notaro is busier than ever as she promotes her new HBO special, Boyish Girl Interrupted, airing August 22nd on HBO. With a book to finish, her wedding to fiancée Stephanie Allynne to plan, and a new Amazon series in the works, she should be sleeping.
There’s just one little problem.
“We adopted a kitten a few weeks ago,” Notaro says in a phone call from Los Angeles. “Right when we need sleep like crazy, we get this little loud, meowing, pushing thing to keep us up.”
Notaro’s career has seen a meteoric rise since 2012, when she was hospitalized for a severe intestinal infection, lost her mother in an accident, and was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer all in the span of four months.
Unsure of what was ahead, she invited friends Louis C.K. and Ed Helms to watch as she took the stage at the Largo in L.A., opening with the comedy-altering greeting: “Good evening, hello. I have cancer. How are you?”
Notaro describes the experience as “processing” and “wanting to free myself of this secret that I originally thought I was going to keep”. She began finding the humor in everything, joking her online dating profile would need to read “serious inquiries only”.
Louis C.K. praised the set on Twitter and posted the audio recording, Live, on his website, selling 75,000 copies in a week. Amidst the increased media attention, Notaro underwent a double mastectomy, or as she calls it in Live, her “forced transition.”
Notaro, who names Joan Rivers and Paula Poundstone as comedic influences, remembers watching Richard Pryor and Whoopi Goldberg perform their specials. She credits her family for her sense of humor.
“I was certainly surrounded by a lot of characters,” she says. “I think they’re all just, in their own way, funny whether they know it or not. I didn’t know that I came from funny, weird people until I left.”
Fresh from the July Netflix release of Tig, a documentary chronicling Notaro’s life and career, the longtime comedienne takes the microphone again after touring at venues across the US, from barns to nightclubs, constantly polishing the material she incorporates into the special.
In Boyish Girl Interrupted, Notaro utilizes her signature impish, deadpan comedy, discussing such topics as finding Santa Claus in a McDonald’s parking lot and awkward airport security encounters.
“Why did I film my special in Boston?” she quips, standing on a carpet from her mother’s childhood home. “I wanted to show you my rug.”
Notaro, now three years cancer-free, delivers half of her performance topless. She teases her cheering audience, displays her scars, and the show, like Notaro herself, continues on.
As she prepares to marry Allynne and start a family, Notaro says the landmark June 26th Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, “felt amazing.”
“Maybe it’s just my relentless hopeful, positive way, but I couldn’t imagine that that would not go in that direction. Of course there’s a long way to go, but it just tipped the scale.”
She looks forward to the comedy that will come from children, though is unsure if it will be used in future performances.
“I love my career and everything I’m getting to do,” she says, “but I really am anxious to start my family and find out who these little people are. We can’t wait to put little pants on someone.”
Whatever the next milestones life may bring, Notaro will undoubtedly tackle them in her usual way: with fearless, mischievous humor.