Comedian Tig Notaro brings us together in a communal awkward moment. Her comedy is full of stuff that seems like it should be painful, or annoying, or TMI (as with this bit about her double mastectomy)—but she makes it funny, and then moving. This Friday, October 24, Notaro brings her Boyish Girl Interrupted Tour to the Taft Theatre. It’s her first tour since 2012’s Live, a legendary performance that got her raves, killer spots on Conan and praise from fellow comics: Louis CK 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.” RJ Smith spoke to Notaro by phone.
Your break-through 2012 show featured stories about your mother dying, your surviving Stage 2 breast cancer. How do you get that show out of your head to put together something new?
My life is just completely different from two years ago and my headspace is completely different. I’m not coming from a scared or sad or desperate place–my life is really great right now. In my new material I touch on briefly what I went through and what my life is like now, but in general it’s just stories and jokes and bits about life and observations. It’s on a much lighter side than not knowing if I was going to live or die.
What was the process for creating the new show?
I do all of my writing on stage; I always do it that way: jot down a word or sentence and then get onstage and bumble my way through it. I’ll record the audio and then just keep telling it over and over. Getting a story together and then telling that story over and over, finding the different beats in it.
Are you still doing your Professor Blastoff podcast (a popular series in which she, Kyle Dunnigan and David Huntsberger joke and converse with interesting guests)?
Yeah—it’s still airing every week. And actually because I’m on this long tour we went into the studio and recorded three and a half months of episodes before I left town. So I should be set until January.
I hear you grew up worshipping Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders.
I never really had any female heroes when I was little, aside from my mother. Then I remember hearing her on Rockline, a syndicated radio interview show, and I couldn’t believe how cool she was. It was her attitude—I remember her talking about people who complain ‘oh I’m female,’ or ‘I’m black,’ ‘I’m gay’. She was just like ‘shut up and do it! No one cares.’ I found that so empowering to hear. She said ‘I never wanted to be the greatest female guitar player or singer in the world, I just wanted to be the greatest.’ I appreciate that. My first girlfriend was from Ohio and when she told me, it was like she said she was from Hollywood, California! ‘You’re from Ohio? What’s it like being from the place that squeezed out Chrissie Hynde?’
Tig Notaro, September 24, Taft Theatre, tafttheatre.org