I heard about Tig Notaro's standup set at the Largo last year- the interwebs kind of exploded with how amazing and awesome it was and no less a comedy authority that Louis CK hailed it as one of the best stand-up sets he had ever seen. And the genius of this album is that her gig nearly got cancelled- and what makes it unbelievably amazing is the context:
And then the day before it was going to happen, she learned how bad her cancer potentially was. In the prior four months, she’d had pneumonia, nearly died from a digestive infection called C. diff, had a breakup, and her mother had died suddenly after a fall — and now this.
I can't imagine the courage it took just to stand up in front of people and talk- but to do so when the idea is to make people laugh? How can you possibly find the humor in a situation like this? Well, Notaro pulls it off and does so beautiful- right from the get go, she walks out on stage and just lays it out there: "Hello, I have cancer."
You can hear the audience members laugh nervously, unsure how to react but Notaro just keeps going and what follows is amazing. Heartfelt, touching, thrillingly honest and most importantly, surprisingly funny. 'Funny Cancer Greeting Cards' and 'Questionaires for Dead People' (the latter where Notaro describes receiving a questioner for her mother,who had died, about whether or not she'd had a good experience at the Hospital is laugh out loud hilarious.)
The most poignant moment of the album to me, comes at the end where Notaro asks the audience straight up if they'd like to change the subject back to something a little more cheerful. They all say no and you can hear one guy in the audience above the others who tells her: 'This is fucking amazing.' And that, to me says it all. Live elevates itself into the realm of legendary comedy albums and one can only hope that Notaro continues to try and top this for many, many years to come- though to be totally honest, it's hard to see how she could do that.
Overall: I'll admit I don't listen to that many comedy albums but this one was worth it, courtesy of the new selection of comedy albums on Spotify. Amazing story, heartfelt, honest comedy and the beauty of finding humor in situations that couldn't be more devoid of it. Listening to this was an experience and a half. **** out of ****. (Oh and stay for 'The Bee Joke' at the very end. It's totally worth it.)