A conversation with Tig Notaro | Comedy | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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A conversation with Tig Notaro

“It’s a kind of cycle of giving to each other and healing each other.”

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Tig Notaro’s stock in standup has risen steadily from the time she began frequenting open mics until the turbulent day in 2012 when she forged her magnum opus — a dark, heartfelt and hilarious performance delivered just weeks after the death of her mother and hours after she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer. This emotionally stirring story has since been told as a documentary, the memoir I’m Just a Person and, most recently, the Amazon Prime series One Mississippi. Notaro spoke with City Paper by phone prior to her Oct. 14 performance here.

Are fans often anxious to tell you of their own personal tragedies and explain how hearing your story helped?

I don’t always want to talk about tragic experiences, but every now and then people share stories that really blow my mind. It’s a kind of cycle of giving to each other and healing each other.

Are you continuing to exercise your on-stage ability to tackle dark topics while still making people laugh?

I feel like my standup is always going to be about what feels right in the moment. Sharing my personal woes and tragedies in 2012 was what felt right in the moment. It didn’t open this door where all I do on stage is share horrific details. … This new hour that I’m touring with has a chunk of material that is easily the silliest thing I’ve ever done on stage. It’s so much fun to do, and there’s nothing tragic about it. The only thing tragic about it would be if someone didn’t find it funny. But even then, those people feed into the fun of the bit.

Many comics complain that audiences these days are too easily offended. Do you agree?

It’s about approaching topics from the proper angle. If you bring up a topic to joke about and someone says, “Oh, I wouldn’t do that,” well, they don’t know what you have in mind. They may have the most obvious or hacky idea in their head, and they might not know what great angle you’ve come up with. I always feel like if you’re offended, leave. It’s not for you.

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