Tig Notaro has been one busy robot—she got engaged over the New Year; she’s writing a memoir; she’s entertained Molly Ringwald on her podcast, Professor Blastoff; and she’s created and starred in two documentaries, one of which is being broadcast tonight, April 17, at 9pm on Showtime.
Knock Knock, It’s Tig Notaro, which premiered at SXSW last month, follows Tig on her 2013 comedy tour, alongside her friend and fellow comedian Jon Dore. Like in previous years, Tig decides to, literally, reach out and touch her fans in the comfort of their own home … or backyard, or barn. She and Dore drive to the most rural hamlets of America, including deep pockets of the South, in Texas and Mississippi in particular. Inevitably, as is due to Tig’s meteoric rise after her now legendary show at the Largo in 2012, in which she announced, “Hello! I have cancer!,” not all the slated shows can take place in peoples homes—too many friends rsvp’d to the show.
Nonetheless, Tig knows how to work a crowd. The 44-year-old comedian’s métier is that of infusing her body into her comedy, but in that bumbling, awkward way that Tig does best—through stylized repetition of, for example, making clown horn noses or “doing an impression, of someone doing an impression.”
Crowds, of course, go wild—it’s Tig, for chrissakes. But in those particular moments in which she walks directly into a crowd and meets the gaze of someone in her audience her comedic talent is palpable, discernable. She has cultivated her comedy as a striking effect of uncomfortable, “human” moments of engagement. Indeed, one of the finest moments of the documentary is when, en route to a show, she and Jon stop at a shop on the side of a highway to buy fireworks and—wait for it—her gravestone. Again, comedy is all about transgression, and after Tig’s multiple health scares in 2012, including her breast cancer, she contrives humor from pathos, and from death itself.
Fans of Tig will enjoy the intimacy that the documentary provides, even though, for those devout followers, there are moments of familiarity with elements of her recent comedic routine. Tig is skilled at making a profession out of her person—but it is a person that she has carefully, and deliberately, crafted as her character, which, for audiences, reads as seamless, honest and genuine. It is, therefore, part of the documentary’s success to highlight moments when Tig appears out of character; most notably, near the beginning of the documentary, when Jon messes her hair with a plastic bag and makes her laugh so hard that she squiggles in the car’s passenger seat like a little boy, with a few dried mango bits stuck between her teeth.
Those moments are priceless. And we, as her fans and as members of her lesbian and queer community, can’t wait for more Tig on our screens.