The groundbreaking comedian, actor, writer, producer, and director Tig Notaro made her way to America’s living rooms in 2015 when she blew people’s minds with her first one-hour, stand-up special, Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted. It wasn’t simply her slightly odd, deadpan, anecdotal wit that won audiences over; it was by baring her soul, and her chest, on stage shortly after undergoing a double mastectomy due to a diagnosis of breast cancer.
Notaro has built a career off of being fearless in her storytelling, and as an out, queer woman who has faced death directly in the face, she is not one to shy away from the difficult topics. Working with her real-life wife and writing partner Stephanie Allynne, Notaro has some exciting projects coming up soon, including a Netflix film, First Ladies, in which Notaro will play Jennifer Aniston’s wife.
Named one of the 50 best stand-up comics of all time by Rolling Stone, the quirky character is making her way to Colorado not once but twice this year with a night in Colorado Springs on April 19 and an intimate performance in downtown Breckenridge on April 28 OUT FRONT had the chance to catch up with the LGBTQ comedian and talk about everything from performing in intimate spaces, what it’s like working alongside her wife, and even how she navigates social media. The humble Notaro spills it all and gives an interesting perspective into life in Hollywood.
Tig, we are so excited to have you here in Colorado!
I am very much looking forward to it. I used to live in Colorado; I lived in Denver on and off over the years, and my brother lived there for like 20 years. He went to school in Fort Collins for a couple years and my mother went to school in Gunnison, so we’ve got a lot of Colorado roots.
That’s awesome! And in Breckenridge, the venue size is rather intimate compared to the Colorado Springs show. Is there a difference for you in preparing material for a small versus large audience?
You know, I really don’t change my material show to show; I just kind of have what I want to talk about, and I do that wherever I go.
Is it a different experience for you as a performer in a smaller space like a comedy club?
I mean, it can be really exhilarating being that up close and personal with everybody, for sure. But, I think anywhere from 300 to 3000, even though it seems like a huge leap, it’s pretty similar. It’s fun on either end of the spectrum. Although, I guess there could be nightmare shows.
Do you work out a lot of material in the smaller clubs, still?
Well, I have my monthly show in Los Angeles at this venue Largo, and I perform there. So,
yeah, that’s kind of where I work things out. Even when I go on tour, I’m always working things out.
Your approach to storytelling is fearless; where does that come from?
I think I just hit different levels of not being too concerned about what people are wanting or expecting of me and settling more comfortably in myself, who I am, and what I want to talk about. Not that I was ever a huge people pleaser, but it’s just become less and less, which oddly ends up pleasing people more.
You have mentioned that you’ve been telling more personal stories and sharing anecdotes that you wouldn’t before have felt comfortable with. Does that translate outside of comedy and into your life; do you feel that there’s been a shift in you?
Yeah, I think definitely, and I’m still not always the most open or welcoming, but I try. I’m always on a mission; I’m more aware of it. I think since that year that my life fell apart, I became more aware of myself and how I presented myself and what I shared. I assessed and reassessed life and myself more and just realized I had so much to be thankful for and so many people of a thankful for, and that includes people in my inner circle and strangers. So, I’m trying to be more open to life because of those experiences and changes, but then also having to take care of myself first and foremost, and not just being an open, available person to anyone and everyone at all times. It’s a delicate balance.
How do you balance that with your wife?
My wife is more personable than I am, and she encourages, if not demands, more of me.
Oh, she kind of forces you out there?
Well yeah, cause she’s like, ‘When you don’t extend yourself in ways, then it leaves everything on my shoulders and in my hands.’ In moments, she’s like, ‘They don’t even want to talk to me; they want to talk to you, but you’re not making yourself available, so I’m having to talk to people.’ And it just becomes an awkward thing where I’m like, ‘Oh right, I need to join in or carry my end of things.’ Even if I’m not comfortable in some social settings or interacting with certain people, I still have to not drop the ball, selfishly.
Speaking of interacting, you have an interesting approach when it comes to social media, Twitter specifically. Why is it so important for you to elevate the voices of others?
That’s giving me way too much credit; I think it’s important to elevate other voices, but that isn’t even how the the account started. The account started because Funny or Die produced my HBO special, and they really wanted me to get on Twitter and start promoting. I was just like, ‘I really can’t think of anything worse.’ And they said, ‘What if we just started an account and we just pass it to somebody new every day, and they can tweet for you?’ And I was like, ‘That is incredible.’
Then, it turned into this amazing thing where it will end up in little pockets of open-mic comedians, the gay community, or in the artist community in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s turned into this accidentally, and I’m all for it, but I can’t pretend like that was my vision. They have tried to lure me onto Twitter a million times, and I don’t care how funny the accounts are, I still have zero interest.
Can you talk about the new project you’re starting with your wife, the Netflix film First Lady?
Well, the movie started kind of as a joke because because my wife’s interested in politics to the degree that I would say I haven’t been. When we first got together, I was like, ‘Oh, you should run for mayor, and I’d be the First Lady.’ We had a laugh about it, and then it escalated to, what if she ran for president, and then I was, like, the First Lady; that really amused us. Then I had suggested, gosh, you know this might be a funny movie. We both agreed that seemed really funny and gay but mainstream.
How did Jennifer Aniston get involved in the project?
I had met, Jennifer Aniston a few years before, and we really hit it off to the point where she went home and told her agent she wanted to work with me. Her agent called my agent and said, ‘What happened between Tig and Jennifer? Jennifer called me and was like, ‘I love her, I want to work with her.” I was like, That is hilarious; I had a great time with her, but I would never have walked away thinking that she wants to work with me.’ So, when this project came up, I just thought Jennifer is such a fun choice for that role because she’s so beloved, and she’s remained on top for decades, and people just love her.
So, when we mentioned it, our producer called her agent, and her agent was like, ‘I bet I can have an answer in 10 minutes.’ They called saying, ‘Jennifer wants to meet with you in two days,’ and I met with her and she was like, ‘I’m in.’ So, Stephanie and I wrote the script, and now she’s finishing the second season of The Morning Show and wants to start shooting as soon as she wraps that. We’re hoping it comes out towards the end of this year.
*Photo by Bob Chamberlin