Why So Serious, Tig Notaro?By John Wenzel | January 10th, 2011 | 4 comments
Welcome to another “Why So Serious?” — a column where we ask stand-up comedians a handful of questions, and don’t expect anything resembling straight answers.
The notoriously deadpan Notaro is best known as Officer Tig on the “The Sarah Silverman Program,” a role she played for the last three years. But she’s also popped up on NBC’s “Community,” Comedy Central’s “The Benson Interruption” and various talk shows in addition to regular touring and writing.
We caught up with Notaro recently about her least favorite joke, her pal Sarah Silverman and her recent deal with respected indie imprint Secretly Canadian — the Bloomington, Ind., label’s first-ever comedy signing.
How was your first time doing comedy, and what made you want to try it again?
My first time on stage went really well, so it only made wanting to go up again that much more appealing. That being said, I’m certain I’d be horrified if I could see actual footage of what I considered “went really well” at the time. Now, my second attempt at stand-up was a totally different nightmare of a story…
Is there a joke you used to love to tell but now can’t stand?
I have several jokes that I wrote in my first few years that I cannot stand to tell anymore. One that really sticks out to me is called “Wheelchair Becky.” It was a great thing at a certain time, because I feel like it was the early sign of where my style was headed, but it feels very amateur now. People request it still, but it’s been years since I’ve done it, so I don’t even remember how it goes anymore. I just know there’s a wheelchair involved somehow.
Do people who spend their lives on the road (touring musicians, comedians, etc.) ever really get used to traveling, or are they just fooling themselves?
People always ask if I get sick of it and obviously it would be nice to be teleported from place to place, but I’m not that successful… yet. I’m really the last person on earth that you will hear complaining about travel. It’s something that is allowing me to have the exact career I’ve always wanted to have. I get perspective the second I imagine myself working in a cubicle in middle america “crunching numbers” or whatever it is people do in cubicles. And because I live in L.A. where the weather is always nice, I enjoy going to other places around the country or world even and experiencing different weather, not to mention cultures, landscapes etc. The alone time I get just staring out the window of a plane and thinking, is honestly amazing.
When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried, and why?
The last time i laughed so hard I cried would be every day that I spend with my writing partner Kyle Dunnigan (which is 3-4 days a week). I feel like I’m 10 years old when I’m with him. He consistently makes me laugh that hard on a daily basis. Zero exaggeration. He’s just pure and utter smart silliness and I love it.
What are you most excited about in 2011?
When I get back from my tour in January, I start pre-production on a pilot that my dear and wonderful pal Sarah Silverman is executive producing. She is the best. It was her idea to sell the live variety/talk show that I do in L.A. for television. The show is basically me having casts of TV shows, movies, bands, my high school teachers (any theme like that) on as guests. I do a few minutes of stand-up, then the guests each come out individually and do a hidden talent, then I do a ridiculous interview with them as a group, then I run around the audience and do a Q&A where I riff off of the questions that are asked and the answers that the guests give. It’s a really explosively fun show.
I also signed a deal with the indie rock label Secretly Canadian. I will be their first comedy release, so I’m really honored and excited about that. This label is the ultimate in indie labels. They have Jens Lekman, Foreign Born, Antony and the Johnsons, Yeasayer, Damien Jurado, etc. etc. The label is wanting to release the “Have Tig at Your Party” DVD as a partner piece to my first CD. It’s footage of me standing still for an hour looking into the camera. My version of the burning log DVD.
And finally, I will host a weekly podcast with my friends Kyle Dunnigan and David Huntsberger on the earwolf.com network discussing science, philosophy and nonsense beginning sometime in the new year(ish). Other than that, I’m always writing and touring, which luckily I still love doing like crazy. And then finally, in general, I’m really excited about purchasing that machine that makes carbonated water right in my home!
Tickets for Tig Notaro’s Thursday, Jan. 13 show at Hi-Dive are $10 and available at the door.
John Wenzel is an executive editor of Reverb and an award-winning A&E reporter for The Denver Post. He is the author of “Mock Stars: Indie Comedy and the Dangerously Funny” (Speck Press/Fulcrum) and maintains a Twitter feed of completely random song titles and band names.