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Tig Notaro on Comedy, Thigh Boils, and Her New TV Show
You might recognize her as that bartender from that one episode of Community. Or her voice from the Professor Blastoff podcast. Or, if you’re ’80s pop star Taylor Dayne, you may not recognize her at all (more on that in a sec). But with Tig Notaro’s upcoming comedy album Good One (out August 2 — pick up a free track in the widget below) and her new LOGO TV show Tig Has Friends, you’ll be seeing her face and hearing her voice a lot more. The Hairpin sat down (online) with Tig, and now we want to be her friend, too. Just not on Twitter.
When you’re not with your comedian posse, do you ever feel like the doctor at a dinner party (or alternately the psychic medium at the dinner party a la Allison DuBois of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills fame)? But instead of a random dinner guest asking you to examine the weird boil on his/her thigh, he/she asked you tell jokes?
More than anything, for some reason everyone seems to think if I’m with them, they are going to end up being in a joke of mine. Everyone needs to relax. And luckily for them, I have a tendency to immediately examine thigh boils at all dinner parties and so people tend to steer away from thinking they’ll end up in my show or the need to hear jokes at inappropriate times. They’re way more concerned about my interest in their boils. And I’m more interested in why everyone seems to have boils.
Your new show is called “Tig Has Friends.” If after the pilot episode, LOGO decided to retool the concept and rename your show “Tig Has Vague Acquaintances,” wherein you talked to your old classmates and coworkers instead of celebrities, what would they say about you?
Well, in all honesty, that’s actually what Sarah Silverman (executive producer) and I are hoping the show will eventually be — not just celebrities, but me having people from my life (past/present) on the show from time to time. And as for what they’d say about me, I think old classmates would say, “Yeah, I remember her, she was the 43-year-old in our seventh grade class.” And old coworkers would say things like, “Oh, I thought she still worked here. Just assumed they moved her into the stock room.”
The badittude of ’80s superstar Taylor Dayne becomes major fodder for you on Good One. What would your reaction be if the badittude of comedian Tig Notaro became major fodder for Taylor Dayne’s new album (which comes out tomorrow, if her website is to be believed)?
I would be thrilled. It would mean she ultimately had a good sense of humor, which I think she might… I hope?! Her agent called my manager a couple of months ago saying Taylor knew about the bit and that she’d love to work with me one day, so I’m hoping to sing a duet with her eventually. My writing partner Kyle Dunnigan and I are presently in the process of working on that song. My goal? A Latin Grammy.
I’m not even going to broach the whole “Wow! Women really are funny!” revelation that seems to be cool to talk about in post-Bridesmaids America. In the past couple of years we’ve seen the likes of you, Sarah Silverman, Maria Bamford, Amy Poehler, et al tearing it up, so that’s not even relevant — we know women are funny, but who, in your opinion, is the funniestwoman?
Everyone you named is a favorite of mine, but one that you missed that I find mindblowingly amazingly funny would be Heather Lawless. I can’t even explain what she does, but I’m in awe and always have been.
You say that you have no interest in Twitter, but YouTube, your podcasts, and other internet mediums have definitely garnered you positive exposure. Why stand firm on this one issue?
With some comedians, there can be a generic tone and delivery that develops in their stand-up and its really a problem, because obviously those comics can’t hear themselves. And believe it or not, there is now a generic Twitter delivery in tweets. It makes me cringe. Twitter is so over-saturated and NOT ALL, but many comics Twitter delivery starts to sound the same due to the limited number of characters allowed. I just don’t want to fall into that. And aside from that, I prefer to just send mass texts to everyone in my cell phone at odd hours of the day saying things like, “Dear guy sitting next to me on the bus, we get it, you haven’t showered in your entire adult life! Quit showing off and start showering off!” or “I just had lunch with my celebrity friend and we are now going to yoga!” or “I’m with all of my favorite people! Having the time of my life!” or “At the grocery store. should I buy 1-ply or 2-ply toilet paper? Any suggestions? And why?”
I was extremely excited to see you pop up on an episode of Community last season as a bartender, and on various episodes of The Sarah Silverman Program throughout that show’s run. Do you create elaborate, tragic back stories for these bit parts? Or partake in method acting? Did you shadow the LAPD on the streets of South Central for your role as Officer Tig?
When I was hired on both TV shows, I joined a local theater company in Ohio and studied there for 10 months and then totally unrelated, I moved overseas to travel with a circus for some reason. Ultimately it all ended up being totally unhelpful and I ended up in debt, so I wouldn’t suggest that to anyone. It was just my path and it made the most sense to me at the time. Do I have regrets? Sure. Would I do it differently now? Absolutely. Can I? No, I’m crippled by the debt I accrued from traveling with the circus.
Claire Carusillo is the Hairpin’s premier intern. Her childhood friends call her Tig, too, but she’s not as good at telling jokes as the real one.