Tig Notaro reveals her secret to happiness

Tig Notaro shocked the world — and Louis C.K. — last year when she performed a stand-up set at Largo in which she spoke candidly about the fact that she’d just lost her mother and been diagnosed with cancer. She told the audience, “Hi. I have cancer. Just found out today. I’m going to die soon.” C.K. later said that it was one of the greatest standup performances he’s ever seen, and Notaro’s album, Live, would go on to be named the Best Comedy Album of the Year by the A.V. Club. Next month, Live is even getting a physical release. Notaro, who is notoriously private off-stage, especially about her sexuality, opened up recently in a fascinating interview with XO Jane. Below are some of the highlights:


Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty

About how facing her own mortality helped her learn to let go:

I hate to keep going back to Sept. 11th but it’s one of those drastic things. I remember hearing the terrorists told the passengers to call their loved ones, because they were going to die. And you know, I experienced that, I felt that way, when I got the call that my mother fell and hit her head. That I couldn’t say goodbye to her, and you know, you’re making your phone calls and the plane is headed for the building — that’s all the time you have left with that person, as you’re going toward the building and that’s the moment when you realize nothing matters in a positive way. There’s something very depressing but also freeing about nothing mattering.

On making amends with an ex-girlfriend:

I had a handful of people I had a falling out on a TV project, I had an ex I hadn’t talked to in 15 years, but I have that luxury where I heard from all of those people because my story spread, and I was just like man, no problem. It was really not a problem. I didn’t go into specifics with anyone, I didn’t want to rehash anything, but just know that we are good and I mean that so genuinely, like I don’t give a shit. And nothing negative about you, really no hard feelings, if I saw you in person, like me and my ex we hadn’t talked in 15 years, and we ended so terribly, so terribly. I think she wished death upon me many times many times, and I started crying when I got her email and didn’t realize how desperately I needed that resolved in my life.

About feeling like a Chilean miner over her recent career success:

I had come through this filthy dark hole… And I came out coughing and everyone was like “Tig! Tig!” And I was like, cough, cough wait cough what? I’ve been in… I’ve just felt so weird getting all this press when I was crawling out of the hole.

The whole interview is really worth a read. It is candid and moving and full of hard-won wisdom. Check it out at XO Jane.

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