Tig Notaro is the standup comedian that made it okay to talk about cancer onstage. In 2012, a year when everything seemed to be falling apart (she was diagnosed with C. diff, her mother died, and cancer was found in both of her breasts), Notaro made fun of misfortune in her act. Her intrepid honesty caught the attention of the press, and she’s been an in-demand comic ever since.
Notaro has appeared onscreen in the documentaries Tig (Netflix) and Knock, Knock, It’s Tig Notaro (Showtime) as well as feature films. It was on the set of 2013’s In a World that she met her wife, Stephanie Allynne. The couple welcomed twin boys earlier this year.
Notaro’s latest venture, One Mississippi, is an Amazon original series that was co-written with Diablo Cody. The dark comedy follows Tig, post-double mastectomy, to her homestate of Mississippi where she comes to terms with her mother’s death.
City Pages: Is it hard to write jokes or do standup when things are going so well in your personal life?
Tig Notaro: Um…no. I’ve never felt like I’ve needed misery to inspire my writing. I don’t fully buy into that. Hopefully, that’s not something I would have to rely on. I’ve always had a pretty decent life. I’ve had my share of ups and downs, but I’ve still managed to feel inspired.
CP: One Mississippi was renewed for another season. Will the next season still be semi-autobiographical or will you explore fictional storylines?
TN: Gosh. I have no idea what is to come, and that’s kind of the exciting part. I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to help but bring some autobiographical elements to the show. We have a couple of new writers that are joining us this year, so it will be interesting to see what they will be bringing and their perspective. We’re really excited to get back in the writers’ room and find out where this show is going.
CP: The awkwardness of step-families in the show is so realistic. How is your relationship with your step-father now? Has he seen the show?
TN: Yeah, he’s seen the show. He wrote me a really wonderful letter after it came out. He loved it. He and my brother and my whole family thought it was awesome. [Babbling noises.]
CP: I think I hear a baby in the background there.
TN: You do. There are two five-month old babies that are ready to walk but they don’t realize they have several more months to wait.
CP: Motherhood has been a big dream of yours for a while. How did the babies finally come into the world? Did you use a surrogate?
TN: A surrogate, yeah.
CP: In addition to having babies, you got married in the past year, right?
TN: Yeah. We just celebrated our one-year anniversary at the end of October. We went back to my hometown in Mississippi to celebrate, and we brought the babies with us for my Mississippi and Louisiana family members to meet them. We had a great time.
CP: What are you looking forward to for the boys’ first Christmas?
TN: I used to be kind of neutral about the holidays, and then when I married Stephanie, she’s just like the epitome of the annoying -- I don’t find her annoying -- person that loves to decorate. I think I’m just excited to have the full-on holiday experiences with the babies and passing their six-month-old bodies around the Christmas tree. My family and friends are pretty obsessed with the babies, so it’s going to be fun to everyone’s reaction to them in their little Christmas outfits.
CP: Do the boys have distinct personalities or are they still emerging?
TN: I think they had distinct personalities in the first couple of weeks. I know that sounds utterly insane, but I really could tell, and it’s still pretty similar to how they came out into the world. They’re very different. They’re fraternal twins, so it’s basically brothers that were born six minutes apart.
CP: What’s the grossest part of being a mom?
TN: I think the obvious of diapers. You sure get some pretty gross surprises on a daily basis. But I guess that wasn’t a surprise. It’s been actually pretty great. They’re sleeping through the night. They’re pretty happy and easy. Like I said, they’re really getting anxious and ready to walk and move and they just aren’t old enough so they have so much energy and excitement and interest in everything.
CP: And how is your health?
TN: My health is great as far as I know. I still go in every three months or so and get checked out. Everything’s been good so far.
CP: What topics will you be touching on in your standup on this tour?
TN: Everyday stuff. Family. Music. Some stories from my past. I think there’s everything in there. I also do a lot of improvisational comedy, so sometimes I don’t really know what will be happening in my show. I think that’s what kind of keeps it a little fresh for me.
CP: The way that you can do comedy on the fly really makes you stand out from other comics. Has that always been your style?
TN: I would say in the first couple of years of my career I started playing with it a little bit. I always really appreciated Joan Rivers and Paula Poundstone, people that were really good at things off-the-cuff. I think, like any other muscle, I got better at it as I continued to work at it.
CP: You’ve done a book, TV, movies, documentaries. What’s left on your bucket list of professional goals?
TN: I think I’d like to do another book and another special eventually. I feel really lucky. I absolutely love my TV show. I kind of have everything. I think just maintaining all the good and keeping myself generating more material; I think that’s kind of key. Other than that, I’m not quite sure. It’s hard to focus too much in that direction when the babies are kind of the main focus right now. I’m hoping they will end up happy, well-adjusted, healthy little people.
IF YOU GO:
8 p.m. Sunday, December 18