(This was completely transcribed by me. You'll have to excuse the errors)
Marc:Now we're going to talk to Tig Notaro. A great stand up comedian who I've worked with many years ago at the Improv in Tampa. But, since then she's just become AWESOME. She's been featured frequently on Comedy Central Presents, she played police officer Tig on the Sarah Silverman Show. One thing we'll talk about, because I think is interesting is her take on the idea that there are too many obstacles for women in comedy because she has a surprising take on that.
Marc:The truth of the matter is, we've never talked and you're one of the few people that sort of gets me sort of off kilter. Not in a bad way, but I find when I have interactions with you that uh I'm like, “oh, it's Tig time! I've just entered the Tig Time Zone!”
Marc:Well a little bit. Because like I think the first time we met and by the way, in the garage here at the cat ranch, Tig Notaro is here from the Sarah Silverman Program and years of stand up. And we worked together for the first time in Tampa and I don't even know what year that was. Do you?
Tig:I..I would guess it was maybe 8 years ago?
Marc:Wh—that's it? 8 years ago?
Tig:Maybe 9? Something like that.
Marc:But like, when I worked with you 8 years ago, I'd never really seen you before and I don't know what your comedy history is. Did you start out in comedy? I mean like in terms of, how long have you been doing it? And where did you come from?
Tig:Um, I think I'm almost 12 years into it.
Marc:Oh that's a lot.
Tig:And um..I started it in LA. I had always wanted to do it. And when I lived in Denver it was when I was reaaally..it was reaaally starting to come up for me.
Marc:Like what were your jobs before?
Tig:Uhhh...I worked in pizza delivery, child care, uh..up to working for Sam Ramey for years..Like, it's just so many different coffee shops, just....
Tig:Which, it's funny because I took the job because I needed a job. I had dropped out of high school and I was like “Ugh, I need a job.” and I took a job in child care-and that's just not the job you go get.
Marc:[laughter] Because you just dropped out of high school.
Tig:Yeah, it's just really involved. [laughter]
Marc:Like, what kind of child care?
Tig:Just like a daycare type ya know? And...
Marc:So you have many kids.
Tig:Yeah. Like kids crawling on me. I had long hair at the time, they were wanting to braid my hair.
Marc:I don't want to be rude, but you don't strike me as, you know, outwardly as like being a kid person.
Tig:Marc, that's SO rude.
Tig:No, of course. But I actually—that job I'm so glad I took it because I was so uncomfortable around kids. Because they just want to hang on you and hug and kiss and braid your hair and I was just like “GET OFF OF ME” like “What are you doing?” And then, the more I was around them, I understood how to be with them in my way, ya know?
Tig:And uh, I actually just talked to them like they're--
Marc:Like grown ups?
Marc:How'd that go over?
Tig:Yeah! Like I--
Marc:Like how old were the kids?
Tig:I worked with anywhere from like 3 to like 12...
Marc:And you just treated them with this sort of um, the 'Tig distance '
Tig:Yeah, just kind of like uh “Listen, um I don't know if you uh really wanna make the choice you're making. Uh, it seems like a poor decision to me.” You know, uh but it was...I couldn't in-authentically--
Tig:Yeah. I mean, but I did love em' and that was the crazy thing. Was like, I started to think even as a high school dropout. I failed 3 grades and dropped out of high school. And then after working with kids I started to think, “I think I might want to work with kids.”
Marc:[Laughing] You think you gotta handle on this?
Tig:Yeah, I just..it was such a bizarre twist in my life.
Marc:Well then you went into comedy which is similar.
Tig:Yeah. Exactly. And now I tour and do colleges. That's the other funny thing is I didn't go to college and then I'm going to do Princeton.
Marc:So you don't..do you now I guess you have friends who have kids now. Right?
Marc:Yeah, it's weird because I don't have that many and I don't find myself socializing with a lot of kids. And I know there are people my age that literally have kids that are ya know, in high school.
Marc:And when you don't have kids, like that time doesn't pass the same way.
Tig:Yeah I guess when I'm thinking back to friends that are in like Mississippi or Texas or whatever, yeah they have kids and when I'm thinking about my life here, it's like 'eh a few'...ya know?
Marc:Mhmm. And they keep them hidden. They're taken care of.
Tig:Exactly. But I was just in uh Utah yesterday or two days ago?
Marc:In Salt Lake City?
Marc:And, to do a show?
Tig:Uh huh. And everybody was married. Like every, all the--
Marc:I think it's a law there. You have to be at least married to one person.
Tig:But then actually you know, it makes sense when you're that young and you have your first love and you think, 'yeah, I'll be with you forever' because you don't know that things change.
Marc:Right. Or maybe you can stay in that thing.
Marc:I mean if you're vigilant enough.
Tig:And when people do that's one of the things that just..it blows my mind when people meet somebody. And the only time I've felt that in my life was with my writing partner.
Tig:Um. And so I've written with people and I've bounced around ideas and whatever. But it just happened to be this guy that I wouldn't have thought in a million years uh cause we've run into each other here and there but we did this really bad pilot that we were laughing so hard and making fun of the entire time. And we just..it was that magical like--
Tig:Yeah. And uh, he was like, “You wanna maybe write?” and I was like “yeah, sure” and then now, like for me with him, I was like “That's it. This is it.”
Marc:This is the equivalent.
Tig:I could be with him forever creatively.
Tig:You know? He's who inspires me and makes me laugh SO hard
Marc:Yeah. Do I know him?
Tig:Uh, Kyle Dunnigan?
Marc:I know Kyle Dunnigan.
Marc:Kyle Dunnigan the Cow slapping Kyle Dunnigan?
Tig:Yes. That guy.
Marc:Yeah, he's a funny guy.
Tig:Yeah, he's a funny guy and he's--
Marc:He's like a puppet almost.
Tig:Yeah, he's very animated and silly and um so when we write, it's funny because his style is very kinda cartoony, silly..and then I have a more uh...
Tig:Yeah, But then as we get closer to each other on, meaning as in like on a script or in a joke..we get to that last moment and that's when the tension starts because he goes a little more that way and I go a little more that way and then usually it feels like the way we decide on which way to go is who's original idea it was.
Marc:Oh really? Not which makes you laugh more necessarily?
Tig:Well, sure. Absolutely. But if you're really down to the wire and you're about to hang up on eachother and lose your mind, it's like, “Alright, you know what? This is your thing. Maybe you're seeing something I don't.” Ya know?
Marc:Right. And then you just sort of balance it out and say the next one's your thing.
Tig:I mean, in general but he's really good.
Marc:Does he live here?
Tig:Yeah, he does. And uh, that's the thing. Like he's not a very social guy. We were both in um, this Comedy Central competition called um, Laugh Riots in my first year of stand up. We were like in the finals in the nation and I laugh now and say to him like, “You know that when we were in the green room at the El Ray Theater that the most we said was like we probably just turned to each other and went, “hey.”...”hey.” And now, I spend every waking hour with this guy.
Marc:It's important to have relationships of any kind that are fulfilling.
Marc:I mean, I had a housemate here that you know, we're not romantically involved but we get along great. It's so nice. It's so nice to have somebody in your life in some capacity that feels solid and fun.
Tig:Well, but I also think it's important to have relationships. Whatever they are. Because I feel like when people—especially comedians when we're touring we're isolated and we don't have to answer to anybody.
Marc:I know. Exactly.
Tig:But I think that..I think it creates this monster though. You know? Of like--
Marc:I know, the monster that lives in hotel rooms and goes out and does bad things and eats bad shit?
Tig:Well I mean there's that. But I mean there's also that you don't have the ability to negotiate anymore. You know? When you're isolated.
Tig:Because you get set in your ways.
Marc:And you always win.
Marc:You're negotiating with yourself.
Marc:That rarely ends well.
Tig:Right. Yeah, it's horrible.
Marc:So, how long you been in LA now?
Tig:Uh. About 12 years.
Marc:And when you came out here, you wanted to do comedy so you started in LA that's a rare thing, huh?
Tig:Yeah, that's not why I came here. Um, my friends that I grew up with they moved out here because they wanted to work in television.
Marc:In a general way?
Tig:Well, my friend wanted to produce.
Tig:And so we all moved out here and as soon as I got here I opened up the LA Weekly or something and I saw all of these opportunities to do stand up and I was like “Oh my God.” Because in Denver there was like, you know two places. And that's what's amazing..”
Marc:Comedy Works? Did you work there?
Tig:Uh, yeah. And then also there was like a Mexican restaurant that you could do an open mic at and when people say it's more intimidating to start stand up in Los Angeles or New York um..I don't agree. Because I was more intimidated with only having limited options in Denver and I know that at Comedy Works you had to sign up on a waiting list. It would last two or three months then you get on stage and you get 2 or 3 minutes and they watch you and if you do okay you can come back. If not, you go back into that long rotation. And to me, that was like--
Marc:What's the point?
Tig:Yeah. That's why I never felt like I really wanted to really go through with that. And then when I got to LA and I saw all the options I was like, “Oh, yeah well I can just fly under the radar.”
Marc:Yeah, well that's the trick in LA is that it's so hard to be under the radar. Like you know--
Tig:Not in a laundromat. Like I was doing open mics in laundromats. I'm saying like you can fly under the radar--
Marc:To start out.
Tig:To start out. Which I did for 2 years. You know. A year and a half I was just doing coffee shops and you know and open mics in a laundromat.
Marc:Well that's interesting because you completely started within that sort of alternative comedy comic produced world.
Marc:Like you avoided the club thing until you got good.
Marc:And now you tour more than most people. You do regular comedy clubs.
Marc:That's great. Because a lot of people who come out of the alternative comedy world never leave it and they never get a sense of whether or not they can perform in front of real audiences.
Tig:Well and I love what's called the “Alternative Comedy World” but, you know like Kyle Dunnigan's not in that and I adore him.
Marc:No, I'm not saying as individuals. I'm just saying if people get locked in the circuit of comic produced shows where they're just performing for other comics, they never really get to find out whether or not they can do the job.
Tig:But and that's the thing is I really am not and I've never wanted to be a comedian that only did Comedy Death Ray or some..that didn't appeal to me. Although, I LOVE doing those shows.
Tig:But I also love going into a regular club or doing a theater or a college. I think it's really a challenge to take who you are if you have something a little different and try to go into those places and um--
Marc:See if it works.
Marc:You have a style. You have a stage persona that's specific and it's not specific to a certain group of people.
Marc:Which is good.
Tig:Yeah. I mean I...I hope it is.
Marc:Well, you're doing well.
Tig:Yeah, I'm enjoying it.
Marc:It's tough for you 'gals'
Tig:No, it's not.
Tig:I cannot stand...I know. I hope you're kidding.
Marc:Yeah. Yeah I am.
Tig:Okay good. 'Cause I cannot STAND that. You know when people...say that.
Tig:When—I don't even like to hear women say that. That “Oh, it's hard..”
Marc:What's your reaction to it?
Tig:I..it just drains me. I feel like they've just started the world's most boring conversation. I feel like if you are funny, that's gonna be the driving force that's gonna get people's attention. You know, like Laura Kightlinger..she is BRILLIANT.
Tig:And before I got into standup that was who—Dana Gould and Laura Kightlinger were like people that blew my mind that I had seen on tv and Laura was somebody that would go on stage in like a short skirt and go-go boots and you know, and she was an attractive person that was doing this dark, just AMAZING, real comedy. That was clever, funny, well-written...just So...I was...Wuhhh..ya know?
Tig:And um...and so when people are like, “Oh, well, it's hard. You know, when you're hot..or you know, people don't take you seriously...” and I always go, “Look at Laura Kightlinger.”
Tig:You know? That excuse does not work. If you are funny, you're funny.
Marc:So you don't think there's any obstacles for women in stand up.
Tig:I think if you go in with that mentality...I mean I really don't know. All I know is obviously my experience.
Marc:Well, in your experience and going to clubs, when you get off stage, you don't ever get that you know, “you're pretty funny for a girl”
Tig:I get that. Absolutely I get that. But I don't take that on.
Tig:I just think you're a ridiculous idiot.
Marc:Right. But with that..I guess that's my question is that some of the parameters of stand up club audiences are dictated by ridiculous idiots.
Marc:And I think that some of the reactions that women have or women that want to do it or what they've experienced on the road is that audiences, you know approach female comics differently.
Tig:Mhmm. Well, yeah. Maybe. I really don't know. I remember when I was in Seattle doing a club and um the club owner's wife said that there was like some Women's Comedy Night where they taught comedy or nurtured female comedians or something and that she had told like--
Marc:[laughter] Like child care?
Tig:I don't know. But she had told the female comedians to come down and talk to me and ask me questions and—first of all that right off kind of scared me a little bit. [laughing] But, they did come up and they were like young girls and pear shaped house wives and just different women coming up and being like, “hi...how many times a week do I get on stage?” and “Where can I go that's safe?” and you know this and that I was just like, “What are you talking about?” Like “Where can you go that's safe?”
Tig:“Well, I'm a girl and I just don't want guys...” and I was like, “This is so the wrong place for you to be.”
Tig:Like if you are looking..like, go to a women's shelter or something. I don't know.
Tig:Because that's the last place you want to be is in a safe environment to do stand up.
Tig:And it's not something, nor is anything that you're passionate about..something that you set aside 2 to 3 nights a week to do.
Marc:I think that's true.
Tig:You are DRIVEN like a maniac to get on stage.
Marc:No matter what.
Tig:No matter what it is. And you don't go, “Okay, I'm gonna go Monday, Wednesday and Friday and I'm going to work on my craft.
Tig:I'm gonna sit down every morning for 1 hour and I'm gonna do—NO.
Marc:Not a bad idea. But I understand what you're trying to say.
Tig:I'm just saying if there's a robotic way..
Marc:Yeah, well what you're saying is people that have the hunger for it have no choice.
Tig:Yeah. You're just..you're--
Marc:You know, you have people standing there going, “I wonder if I should...” ya know, then you're already half way done.
Tig:Yeah. You're...NO. No. No. No.
Tig:And so when people are like, “Yeah, it's hard as a girl..” and this and that, the most empowering thing would be walking on stage, being this smoking hot woman, dressed so femininely and just kick people in the teeth with their comedy.
Tig:Which I think somebody like Natasha Leggero does. You know what I mean?
Marc:She figured it out.
Tig:It doesn't hold her back that she's this attractive person.
Marc:Yeah, and she's a unique person.
Marc:And over the years she's really developed this voice and this character and she intimidates me.
Marc:What do you got coming up? Where are you going? Anything you're looking forward to?
Tig:I do this monthly show at Largo.
Marc:Oh yeah. Like a Tig and Friends?
Marc:That I haven't been on. No problem.
Tig:It's not a stand up show.
Marc:I can do anything.
Marc:What's required of me?
Tig:I'll bring on casts of tv shows.
Tig:And uh..what I'll do is I come out and I do stand up for about 10 minutes. Then after that I bring up, individually different cast members from tv shows and it's like a hidden talent type moment.
Marc:Oh, interesting. Yeah.
Tig:So you get to see people read poetry or tap dance or play guitar or whatever you don't normally get to see them do when they're doing their sitcom.
Marc:Well who's been on? Like what has been some surprising moments?
Tig:Well, I mean...a fun show in general that I had recently was the cast of Parks and Recreation.
Tig:And it was sooo ridiculously fun. My mind..my head was about to explode because beyond the—that's just so small. What people do or what people..you know the hidden talent part. Because after that I sit down with the cast and I do just kind of an awkward interview with them. And then I go out and I do—I call it “Phil Donahue the Place”
Tig:And I do a Q&A..it's not like a sterile Q&A.
Tig:I riff off of their question, I riff off of the cast member's answer. I maybe sit on the lap of a person. It becomes very interactive. And um, so Sarah is executive producing it and we're shooting it. And it's just a really, really fun show.
Marc:That sounds fun. Thank you so much for talking to me.
“Tig Notaro delivers her jokes in a quintessential deadpan. She can discuss anything—from vomiting in her mouth to the inexplicable ubiquity of Taylor Dayne to the comically misunderstood threat of hotel molestation—without faltering from it, a feat that’s both impressive and almost unnerving in its consistency. It’s this delivery that carries Good One, her debut album on Secretly Canadian (it’s the company’s first comedy record, too), and clearly, she’s developed it over time.”—Austin L. Ray (Paste Magazine)