Tig Notaro started her comedy career in the late 1990s by playing open mic nights at clubs in Los Angeles. She soon moved on paying stand-up gigs and landing guest spots on such TV shows as The Sarah Silverman Program, In the Motherhood, Community and The Office. In 2012, Notaro addressed her breast cancer diagnosis on stage, in a performance that became best-selling comedy album Tig Notaro Live. She then worked on the first season of Inside Amy Schumer. In 2015, Notaro debuted her first HBO comedy special Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted.
Born on March 24, 1971, in Jackson, Mississippi, comedian Tig Notaro is known for her wit and deadpan delivery. Her full name is Mathilde O'Callaghan Notaro, but she's been known as "Tig" since childhood. The nickname was given to her by her brother. Notaro spent her early years in the town of Pass Christian, Mississippi, and later moved to Texas. She described her childhood self as "a full-blown tomboy" to Mother Jones magazine. Notaro also explained that she was quite a handful growing up. "I was very mischievous and got into a lot of trouble. I started smoking probably when I was nine. My friends used to call me Huckleberry Tig."
Notaro had no interest in school. According to her website, she "failed three grades by entertaining classmates rather than entertaining the notion of a successful academic career." Notaro did have a passion for music, though. In an interview on NPR's Fresh Air program, she said that "I got my first guitar when I was nine because I wanted to be the fifth Beatle, even though they had already broken up."
In the late 1990s, Notaro made her way to Los Angeles. There she soon began exploring her interest in stand-up comedy. Notaro was known to ride her bike around the city to perform at different open mic events. She eventually developed a following in the area and started to land some TV appearances as well. In 2004, Notaro was featured in an episode of Comedy Central Presents. She won the admiration of such fellow comedians as Sarah Silverman and tapped Notaro for guest spots as "Officer Tig" on her comedy show The Sarah Silverman Program, which aired from 2007 to 2010. Around this time, Notaro launched her weekly podcast Professor Blastoff, which explored different scientific topics. She hosted the show with fellow comedians Kyle Dunnigan and David Huntsberger.
In 2012, Notaro went through a brutal year filled with health problems and personal losses. She had pneumonia and then contracted a potentially deadly bacterial infection that caused her to lose more than 20 pounds. After battling these issues, she lost her mother who had suffered a fall and died a short time later. Notaro then had to cope with a breakup from her girlfriend. She also learned that summer that she had breast cancer in both of her breasts.
Tig Notaro Live
Shortly after receiving her cancer diagnosis, Notaro took the stage at Largo, a club in Los Angeles. She decided to put aside her regular material and do a much more personal performance. According to Fresh Air, Notaro came up with "this idea that I walk on stage and say thank you, I have cancer, thanks for coming" while taking a shower before the show. She spent her roughly 30-minute set tackling different aspects of this difficult topic and finding the humor in it. The audience was spellbound by her performance.
Fellow comedian Louis C.K. was at the Largo that night and saw Notaro. He took to Twitter to praise her performance, writing "In 27 years doing this, I've seen a handful of truly great, masterful stand-up sets. One was Tig Notaro last night at Largo." Louis C.K. soon put a recording of her act up for sale on his website, which later was sold as Tig Notaro Live. Notaro received a Grammy Award nomination for the album.
Since her groundbreaking 2012 show, Notaro has seen her career reach new heights. She made her film debut in the 2013 independent comedy In a World. . . starring Lake Bell. On the small screen, Notaro worked on the first season on Inside Amy Schumer but had too many of her own projects to sign on for the next season. In 2015, she was the subject of the documentary Tig and had her own Showtime program Knock, Knock, It's Tig Notaro. She also debuted her first HBO stand-up special Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted that same year.
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