Tig Notaro’s Hysterical Tale (of Cancer)

Posted in Check It Out!, things I like that you should like too on February 1st, 2013 by Nick

notaro.jpeg.CROP.article250-mediumIn the span of four months, Tig Notaro got pneumonia, contracted a deadly intestine-eating bacteria, lost her mother in a freak accident, broke up with her girlfriend, and got diagnosed with cancer. (And you think your life sucks.) Shortly after, she got on stage at Largo in LA to deliver one of the most personal, tragic, yet absolutely hilarious sets of stand-up I have ever heard.

Notaro’s 30-minute set unravels with one tragedy after another, as she discusses “funny” cancer greeting cards, being mistaken for a man immediately after her diagnosis, the ludicrous notion of God only giving you “what you can handle,” and a survey a hospital sent her dead mother. Her dry delivery is perfect; her timing, like a seasoned pro.

The audience’s reactions add to the performance. They’re caught off guard, laughing at awkward moments and not laughing at moments where they should. Notaro continues calling them out and toying with them like a cat playing with a mouse. Even among her pain and misfortune, she remains light and sarcastic, while the set’s touching moments also help keep it grounded.

I don’t even want to elaborate any further, for fear of ruining any part of this soon-to-be-legend’s performance. To ruin these jokes for you would be over-preparing you for a set that requires you to feel uncomfortable and unguarded. But thanks to Notaro’s brilliance, it’s not a buzzkill and it won’t bring you to tears…or the bad kind anyway. Her courage is beyond admirable, and the set, bold and brave. Hearing the crowd cheer at the end gave me chills. You’ll want to take the ear buds off your head and give her the standing-O that the audience at Largo gave her that night.

Louis C.K. was in the audience and said: “In 27 years doing this, I’ve seen a handful of truly great, masterful standup sets. One was Tig Notaro last night at Largo.” He then made the audio of her performance available for download on his site and gave her all of the proceeds.

Louis may have been having a moment these past couple years, but now it’s Tig’s turn.

Grade: A

Tig Notaro: Live (as in “live or die”) can now be found on iTunes and Amazon. It’s only $5 and she’s been donating some of the proceeds to charity. So don’t steal this one, assholes! Just kidding. But no really, don’t.   

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Mindy Kaling Airs Her Concerns in ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?’

Posted in Books on December 21st, 2011 by Nick

You probably know her as the dim-witted, selfish, attention-whore Kelly Kapoor on NBC’s The Office, but Mindy Kaling wants to be clear: She is no Kelly. Mindy would never fake a pregnancy for attention, nor a rape for that matter. She also wouldn’t consider driving away from the site of a vehicular manslaughter. She may, however, memorize her credit card number to shop online with ease or subscribe to trendy, borderline dangerous diets, but hey man. A girl’s gotta live.

In her new book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Kaling takes us through her journey as a chubby, androgynous youngster (her words, not mine – see photo) to her success as a Writer/Producer/Actor on one of the best comedies on television. Equal parts self-deprecation and vivacious wit, the book exemplifies Kaling’s passion for comedy, writing, awkward social situations and fashion, all while spewing hilarious stories about her first interview and subsequent fight with Office creator Greg Daniels, her stay in the Big City as a young twenty-something (“I Love New York and It Likes Me OK”), and her love for Irish goodbyes and chest hair.

You’re probably already comparing it to another NBC favorite’s Bossypants, released earlier this year. While Fey’s collection was also a quasi-memoir depicting her rise to fame and all the hilarious happenings along the way, I find Kaling’s to be the stronger of the two. She even goes so far as to point out the likely comparisons (“Unfortunately, I can’t be Tina, because it’s very difficult to lure her into a Freaky Friday-type situation where we could switch bodies, even though in the movies they make it look so easy. Believe me, I’ve tried”). For Tina fans: Mindy Kaling’s offering is just as worthy.

While Fey is surely a Comedienne Goddess, Kaling kind of feels like this girl you once knew in high school who just happened to land a gig on a top-rated primetime network show. By book’s end, you feel secure with her entertaining charm and unique perspective. You want to obey her rules for karaoke ettiquette. You understand “The Exact Level of Fame” that she seeks, because dammit, who wouldn’t like automatic cutsies in the brunch line or Kenan Thompson portraying them on Saturday Night Live?

Kaling is brutally honest, especially at her own risk, making Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) a perfect wind-down read after a long day battling traffic, last-minute holiday shopping, and the increasing desire to strangle the stranger standing next to you.

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