Take a Drink: for Cancer jokes
Do a Shot: for every piece of bad news Tig receives, and Drink a Second Shot for gained perspective
Take a Drink: to celebrate good news
Do a Shot: when you try to think of ways to live better
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (A Toast) –
In 2012 Tig Notaro was on the rise in the comedy world, with television appearances, indie movie roles, and regular work at “Largo”, her favorite comedy venue in Los Angeles. While on the set of the movie In a World shooting a supporting role, Tig fell ill, and eventually collapsed. Diagnosed with deadly bacterial infection colloquially called C. Diff, she was hospitalized for a week, and faced extreme weight loss and a lengthy recovery. Shortly after, her mother died in a freak falling accident. Several weeks following this, scans found a cancerous lump in her breasts. Fresh from this diagnosis, and desperate for an outlet, she turned to the Largo comedy club, performing a half-hour set which became legendary for its honesty in addressing her fears, doubts, and the reality of her situation through comedy. Following a double-mastectomy, Tig was declared cancer-free, and in an act of death-defiance, used a post-operative photo as the cover for the comedy album recording of her stand-up show, given the double-meaning title “Live”
The story in Tig doesn’t end there; in fact her cancer survivor story is really only Act 1 of this ambitious film by first-time feature filmmakers Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York. Following in the wake of her cancer scare, the filmmakers follow her through her personal and professional life, as she dedicates herself to work-shopping new comedy material, while attempting to start a family with her girlfriend.
The filmmakers make generous usage of archival material of Tig performing live before and after her diagnosis, contrasting these public moments with an uncanny amount of intimate footage of Tig as she visits cancer doctors, then fertility doctors, and as she resumes living her life as normally as possible in the aftermath of it all while maintaining her sense of humor.
It is in these small moments that the film truly comes into its own. Tig permitted cameras to follow her around during a great deal of very personal moments in her life, and it is to her credit that she trusted the filmmakers so much.
Rather than sensationalize the details of Tig’s health issues, the film instead concentrates on her character. The narrative is built through revealing to the audience who Tig is, and what she means to the people around her. Tig’s deadpan nature and poker-faced demeanor prove a difficult wall to penetrate, but the directors take full advantage of a handful of moments where she gives the game away.
When tragedy toppled the house of Tig Notaro’s life she not only fought back, she cashed the insurance check and built her home bigger and stronger than ever.