Tig Notaro – Who will make you laugh and cry at the same time

We have written articles before on female stand-up comedians whose style and humour we feel are one of a kind. The star of this piece though, Tig Notaro, is unlike any female, male or trans comedian - what she does is something you need to see to believe.

Imagine a woman who in the course of one year, suffered through colitis (a disease that in most cases leads to death), her mother died, had to live through the end of a relationship, and had breast cancer that brought a double mastectomy. After all this, how did she manage to get on the stage again - you might ask. Well, she made history, that’s how.

The show at hand was only recorded on one device in pretty bad quality. Nevertheless, thanks to social media, it quickly travelled to thousands and even millions of people - it went crazy viral so to say.


So what was so special about her performance?

Tig just wasn’t playing around and opened her set with the greeting: “Good evening, hello. I have cancer, how are you?” then went on to describe how she had always hated her small breasts, but now the little bastards came back to take revenge. I don’t want to spoil all her jokes for you, and to be fair, writing does not do justice to her sense of humour. Her unbelievable calmness, her slow, rigid way of speaking and weirdly comforting attitude is something that only she can do. You need to see and listen to her to understand.

The groundbreaking performance was followed by a series of interviews, photoshoots and other offers, and Tig, who has so far only been an underground phenomenon, went mainstream, published an album and a book and inspired countless people

It is important to note that before the series of unfortunate tragedies, she was trying her hardest to get pregnant. Her longing for a baby did not stop after her illness, and stopping with her therapy for cancer - risking relapse - she continued with artificial insemination. Though she had started the process alone, at this point, she had a companion, her partner Stephanie Allynne.

I could go on and on about her life, but if you are interested, you should check out the documentary based on her life, Tig (available on Netflix), the film that inspired this article as well.

Today she is raising her two beautiful sons with Stephanie and starred in several different series (One Mississippi, Transparent, Tig Notaro: Happy to Be Here, No, You Shut Up, etc. ) In her latest project, she will play alongside Jennifer Aniston as the first openly lesbian first lady of the United States.

It’s not just her incredible life or her incredible stand-up sets (one time she removed her shirt to show how a double mastectomy looks like) that is unique about her - it’s more how she is able to inspire thousands of people, making you laugh and cry at the same time. She makes you believe that even after the worst of tragedies you have the power to live and survive, and teaches you to laugh in the face of pain. I cannot imagine a greater support than empathizing with other people’s pain and trying to ease it.


Translated by Dóra Bajnóczi

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