In 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.
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.