Tig Notaro on Twitter, One Mississippi, Motherhood and Returning to Denver
Tig Notaro headlines the Boulder Theater on Sunday, December 11.
Despite enduring a lifetime's worth of adversity in a few short months, Tig Notaro has remained indefatigably prolific and unfailingly hilarious throughout her struggles with health, heartbreak and loss. Since releasing the instant-classic album Live, Notaro has worked ceaselessly; she was the focus of the heart-wrenching documentary Tig, performed shirtless in a triumph over her mastectomy scars in Boyish Girl Interrupted, and created her own sitcom, One Mississippi. In addition to all these creative efforts, Notaro and her wife welcomed twin boys into their family earlier this year, a welcome development that nonetheless makes tours such as the one Notaro is now on difficult to arrange, and therefore increasingly rare. She arrives at the Boulder Theater on December 11; with local treasure Nancy Norton in the feature spot, Notaro promises not only a fearless yet defiantly silly evening of comedy, but also a living testament to hope and persistence.
We recently caught up with Notaro to discuss the challenges of doing standup as a new mother, her Amazon series One Mississippi, and why she doesn't manage her own Twitter account.
Westword: Thanks for agreeing to do the interview.
Notaro: You bet. Sorry, I’ve got some crying babies over here.
How has performing changed since your twins were born?
Well, I’m certainly not going out and doing shows as often as I was, but I’m still going out and performing when I can. There’s some material about kids in there, but it’s not like my entire set is kid material. But it’s in there.
Is it harder to go away for long tours — like the one you’re about to do — when you know they’re at home?
Well, when I go out in December, that’s gonna be the longest I’ll have been away since the babies were born. Usually it’s no more than a couple of nights. It’s been manageable, but luckily my schedule isn’t like it had been for the previous couple of years.
What are your ultimate plans for the hour you’re touring with now?
I’d like to do a special, but I’m not in a huge hurry. When it feels right, I’d definitely like to do another special.
It hasn’t been that long since the last one came out. Do you have the new material at a place where you want to record it?
Yeah, I’d say that within the next two to six months, I’d be ready.
Do you typically travel with your own feature act or let the venue set it up?
I usually use a local who's either a friend or the venue will send options of locals whom I’ve never met. I’ve certainly toured with people previously, but I’ve found it fun to see who’s out there in the different cities.
I’ve noticed that you turn over management of your Twitter account to fledgling comics who typically enjoy a boost in followers afterward. Are you being generous, or do you just hate tweeting?
Well, I’ve never tweeted. Funny or Die started my Twitter account for me, and so I don’t even have the password or anything like that. They started it, then they handed it off to other comics. I think Sarah Silverman was the first one to tweet for me, and then it’s just kind of made the rounds from comedians to cartoonists all the way to open-mic-ers in random cities. But, yeah, Twitter doesn’t interest me.
You’ve been especially prolific since 2012; do you think that’s because surviving cancer emboldened you, or did a bunch of people just want to work with you because Live was so good?
You mean, not just with standup?
Yeah, I mean the memoir, the documentary, the television series — everything.
Well, all of those different deals were kind of offered to me at the same time, and because things so often don’t work out, we kind of agreed to all of it, and they all actually ended up going into production. So it was one of the busiest times of my life. But, yeah, I guess I just had to step up to the opportunities and deliver what was expected — which was enjoyable but completely exhausting. Like right now, I’m just enjoying that I only have to focus on a TV show and standup. And newborn twins. But to me, that’s a much lighter load than what I had been dealing with for the past couple of years.
You were the focus of a documentary called Tig, living out some seriously personal moments on camera. Is there anything you wish they hadn’t filmed?
No. I mean, there were certainly hard moments. They were either positive and vulnerable or sad and vulnerable. I agreed to do the movie kind of without remembering that life does whatever it wants to. I thought the documentary was just going to kind of catch me on the way up, you know, returning to life and just having positive experiences. But that’s the thing about a documentary: You don’t know what’s coming in life, and you have no idea what you’re going to be filming. And when I was just right in the middle of it all, in the moment I was thinking, “Oh, my gosh, I don’t want to be filming this" — but then I also didn’t want to pull back, because I knew I would be making something more compelling by presenting those struggles. But it certainly wasn’t easy.
It’s not always easy to watch, so I can only imagine what it was like to live through.
It was rough, you know? But I’m really happy with what the filmmakers ended up with.
How did you adjust to the job of a memoirist? What were your goals when you set out to write I’m Just a Person?
Well, people were offering me, or I guess approaching me about book deals before 2012, and then after that moment that went viral in my career, then I got a whole new wave of book-deal offers. I think that seeing the response that my album got, which was such a skeletal version of what actually happened, I felt compelled to add more details. If people were touched by just the standup set, I thought that there was so much more I could share with a book. I also have a bad memory, and I thought I’d like to start writing out what I went through and how I felt before I forget. And even now when I’m reading it, or when I recorded the audio book, I’d see something and think, “God, I forgot about this.” So I’m glad that I chronicled all that.
Your Amazon show is autobiographical as well. Is it ever weird to relive some of these experiences within the context of a writer’s room?
It is, but my life is also very fictionalized on the show. People are bringing their experiences and their takes on my life and their life; they’re adding to situations or creating new ones. It’s been fun to see what all of these extremely talented people are doing with these nuggets from my life. It’s definitely vulnerable, but everything feels really good. It’s nice that it’s been well received and that we’ll have a second season. I don’t put anything out there that I don’t want to share, but it’s been nice to have the freedom to fictionalize parts of my life. Because I think otherwise, people might think, “Oh, I’ve seen the documentary, I’ve read the book and heard the album.” And although you might know roughly what happens, this is ultimately a different version.
What do you have in store for the next season of One Mississippi?
I have no idea. No idea. That’s what’s really fun. I’ve been keeping a list of ideas; it has actors that I want to look at, storylines I want to pitch in the room, character names and even songs I want to use on the show. But I don’t know. There were things in the first season that we thought were going to be part of the show that ended up falling out of the show at the last minute. So that’s how much I have no idea what’s even going to happen.
Anything else you want to mention before we wrap up?
Not really. I just absolutely adore Denver and the Boulder area. Having lived there several times, it feels like home to me. My brother lives there and has his own sports radio show in Denver. I’m always happy to come back.
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