Tig Notaro is a brilliant comedian. She’s got a (recently-ended) podcast, Professor Blastoff, she had a role in the Season 6 finale of Adventure Time and she was also Officer Tig in The Sarah Silverman Program (which is way underrated if you ask me).
But probably, if you know Tig, you probably know her from her Live (verb, not adjective) album featuring a recording of her legendary Largo set in which she announced she had breast cancer. And considering that it sold 75,000 copies in one week, there’s a good chance you do know this album.
And if you know Live, you know that at the time, she didn’t JUST have breast cancer. At the same time, she had been fighting the potentially fatal disease C-Diff, she’d just gone through a breakup, and her beloved mother had died from a sudden accident. And if you know all that, you know that Live is also funny.
This is where Tig, the outstanding new documentary from Netflix starts. The film features clips from Live throughout, and the narrative starts with Tig’s C-Diff diagnosis shortly after shooting the film In A World by Lake Bell. The deluge of terrible things to befall Tig, however, doesn’t take too much time in the movie. The directors (Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York) rightly decide that the focus of Tig should not be the tragedy, but Tig’s journey of growing past the tragedies and continuing her career.
The bulk of Tig follows Tig as she figures out where to go with her comedy after Live, and how her life should change. The biggest decision in the film is for Tig to attempt to have a child via a surrogate. There’s a chance that the procedure to harvest Tig’s eggs could trigger a cancer relapse — but Tig also sees it as her last chance to have a blood connection with her mother by passing her genes along.
For comedy nerds, we get to see Tig workshop some of her jokes. A particularly insightful section of the film follows Tig as she tries to find a low-key venue to try out new material, only to be thwarted by emcees introducing her with a whole bunch of (justifiable!) hyperbole, seeing as she just had a hit record and her story went viral.
The process is brilliantly highlighted by the repetition of one particular joke. Each time it appears in the film, it gets a little better and a little better… until the final performance where she’s finally tweaked the punchline enough to be perfect.
But one of the best threads of the documentary is the friendship and romance between Tig and her fiancee Stephanie Allynne. The two met on In A World, and re-connected after Tig’s cancer scare. It’s a sweet story, and both Tig and Stephanie seem so right for each other. I defy you to not feel good about their romance! IT IS IMPOSSIBLE.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with Tig Notaro’s work, Tig provides enough comedy to provide a good introduction to her work, and a gripping story of triumph and love. Tig is a phenomenal documentary for fans and future-fans alike.