Laughing Matters: Tig Notaro

 Comedienne Tig Notaro (affectionately named by her brother as a child) is finding her way into everything lately. She’s a cop on The Sarah Silverman Project, a touring comedian, actress, and you can even have her at your party (Disclaimer: actual Tig Notaro sold separately). Come January 13, Notaro will be coming to Denver for a night at The Hi Dive. Notaro and I sat down at two ends of an internet connection and talked about her impending Colorado stop and upcoming projects.

303: After dropping out of high school you moved to Denver and started managing bands, what spurred you to make such a dramatic change in your life, and what pulled you to the music industry?

TIG NOTARO: I was not cut out for the structured environment of school by any stretch of the imagination. However, I was very focused on music and playing guitar. I would spend hours a day practicing. I was never comfortable playing in front of anyone, so working in the music business was just a logical way for me to be around music and not have to deal with the nerves of performing it. Obviously I eventually got into comedy, which seems to be every ones worst nightmare along with public speaking in general. For whatever reason, the idea of comedy excited me rather than scared me. The odd thing is, now that I’m so comfortable on stage with comedy, I feel like I could play music in public now too. Not that I would do that to anyone, but I’m just saying that I think I’ve gotten over my fears.

303: Departing Denver you moved to LA and became an assistant on the show Xena: warrior Princess and discovered your new career, stand-up. What drew you away from music and into comedy?

TN: I was already doing comedy when I got my job at Xena. That turned into comedy of its own, in that I was easily the world’s worst assistant. I was answering phone calls about these Xena and Hercules characters, meanwhile I had never really seen the show and was just watching the clock all day waiting to go do open mics after work. Lucy lawless tells everyone the only reason they kept me around, was because I amused everyone on the production. It was a great experience that I feel lucky to have had. It took care of me financially while I ran around the comedy club scene. When I was in Denver working in music promotion, I was really just wanting to get into comedy. It wasn’t until I moved with my two childhood friends to LA that I finally got into it. There were a million opportunities to do comedy around LA, so after watching two weeks of shows, I finally did my first open mic. I think I’m thirteen years into it now?

303: Your stand-up has a very dry wit, is this naturally your humor or part of a character you’ve built for stage?

TN: My humor is pretty similar on and off stage. It’s rare that someone meets me and says, “wow, you’re nothing like I thought you’d be. ” Usually I just hear flattering things such as, “you’re older looking in person.” Or, “you’re shorter than you look on TV.” Or, “I hate your comedy.”

303: You’ve worked on several television shows, such as ABC’s In the Motherhood, Dog Bites Man and most notably The Sarah Silverman Project. Do you approach comedy as an actor the same as on stage or is it a whole different animal?

TN: Stand up is something I work at daily/nightly. I’m so devoted, between writing and performing. It’s truly a passion for me even though I don’t enjoy watching myself do it. I feel like a “stage mom” to myself with stand up. Acting is this weird thing that I’ve accidentally gotten to do because friends of mine star in TV shows, so luckily they have had me on. I really enjoy acting, but I’m not going to pretend that I’m great at it. When I’m hired, it’s usually just to play some variation of myself. I’ve certainly never studied acting and nor do I plan to. It’s the opposite of “stage mom” with acting, I’m more like the mom that knows their kid isn’t very smart, so anything they do they treat it like the child just cured cancer.

303: You have a DVD entitled Tig at Your Party where you stand in an empty room for an hour talking sporadically as if you are at a party. What brought you to this idea and where can our readers get a hold of this DVD so that they themselves can have Tig at their party?

TN: Years ago Chelsea handler was having her birthday party and emailed me, demanding that I attend. I was on the road at the time touring, so I wasn’t able to make it, but thought it would be funny to film myself alone in my hotel room just starring at the camera and then mail it off to her to put on a TV in the background. I never did it, but it gave me the idea for the DVD. It’s been filmed, but it’s actually not going to be released until this year, because my record label wants to make it a partner piece to my CD.

303: You have a new comedy album coming out this year (2011). Can you share any details on the album and what people can expect?

TN: The album is being released on the indie rock label called Secretly Canadian. They are this super cool label and I’ll be their first comedy release.
I’m so excited to be working with them. I’m recording the CD in the next month or two, so imagine I’ll add some new stuff I’m working on and maybe a “greatest hit” or two. But at this point, you’re guess is as good as mine.

303: When in LA people can catch you monthly at the Largo with a show called Tig Notaro & Friends. How long have you been doing the show and what was the launching idea behind it?

TN: I’ve been doing my live show about 2 years or so. I sold the idea for television and Sarah Silverman is executive producing it. It’s only a pilot right now, but hopefully it will get picked up and turn into a regular weekly TV series. We should know in the next 6 months or so. The TV version is themed with my guests being casts of TV shows, movies or bands. They each come out on stage and do a hidden talent, then I interview them all as a group in a ridiculous way, then there’s a Q & A where I run around the audience at the end of the show, which is a really fun and explosive way to wrap it all up.

303: You’re rolling into Denver to play at the Hi-Dive on Jan 13th, are there any old Mile-High haunts you want to revisit while you’re here?

TN: Aside from just being with my good friends, I always love going to Paris on the Platte. It’s where I first started going when I moved to Denver at eighteen and whenever I’m in town I always swing by.

Catch Tig Notaro @ The Hi-Dive Jan 13th

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