Stephanie Allynne on unofficially coming out in “Tig”

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Tig, the documentary about out comic Tig Notaro, is available on Netflix today, and it’d be impossible to share the story of her life without including her partner Stephanie Allynne.

Tig had a notoriously terrible few years when she developed C-Diff, lost her mother, went through a break-up and was then diagnosed with cancer. The film details what it was like for her to turn the tragedy into comedy and watch that talent put her into an even bigger spotlight than she had before. Outside of career, though, she was trying to have a baby and also maintaining a close friendship with her 2013 film In a World co-star Stephanie, which turned into a romance that filmmakers Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York caught on camera.

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Stephanie, an actor and improver in Los Angeles, shares some of her own story in Tig, and we see the early text messages they exchanged, hear stories about how they felt about one another, and see Stephanie’s struggles as she comes to terms with realizing she was interested in dating a woman for the first time. Tig and Stephanie are now engaged, so it’s not spoilery to say that there’s a happy ending for the couple, who spend the latter half of the documentary looking to help Tig have a child via a surrogate. 

We talked with Stephanie about having cameras document some of her coming out process and why we won’t see Tig hitting the basketball court on Stephanie’s team, The Pistol Shrimps, anytime soon.

 

AfterEllen.com: Your friendship with Tig turned into a relationship during the filming process. Was that weird for you at the time?

Stephanie Allynne: Yeah, it was weird because when we were making In a World, I was so far from thinking it would be a relationship that we just really enjoyed each other. And then a year later when we reconnected, it so quickly went in that direction that it was kind of a funny turn of events. But then, you know, little complications along the way.

 

AE: And you had cameras following you, so how aware were you that it was going to be part of a movie?

SA: Well, it’s interesting because when we were first hanging out, there were cameras wherever she would go, so I knew she was making a documentary and I didn’t want to be on it. There’s certain moments where I know I’m ducking off in a corner in places. And then once we were kind of more “Oh we’re definitely in a relationship,” it’s weirder for me not to be. When we’re dating, that’s when it kind of seemed strange to not be on. 

 

AE: As a comic and actor yourself, what’s it like to date someone who does something similar to what you do?

SA: So far it’s been really fun. It’s interesting because I do improv and I don’t do stand-up and it would seem that it’s so similar, but I’ve never followed stand-up or really gone to stand-up shows so it’s kind of really fun to go see her and then, in the process of seeing her, I just get to see the greatest stand-up. I have no sense of the lower levels. 

Columbia At The Village At The Lift 2015 - Day 5 - 2015 Park City 

AE: You never had to suffer through the open mics.

SA: I just go to Largo and sit in really great theater and see really great people. [laughs]

 

AE: Why hasn’t Tig been drafted onto the Pistol Shrimps yet?

SA: You know, Tig was originally on the Pistol Shrimps and she came to the first practice, got hit in the face with a ball and her sunglasses, like, tilted a little bit and she immediately, in the moment, said “I’m out,” and went and sat down and never played again. She was limping and her hip hurt, and she’s like “I’m six years from 50!” She comes to all the games.

 

 

#regram new shirt design by @melissastetten #TIG

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AE: You’re also in Clown Service, Tig’s short. What was your experience like working on that?

SA: That was kind of fun because that was the first time we worked together when we were actually together and I think both of us were like, “God, this is really fun to work together.” Now we kind of want to do that again and its kind of my favorite thing to work with her because we’re so similar. And it was her first time directing so it was kind of fun to watch.

 

AE: One thing it seems that a lot of people are surprised by is Tig’s wanting to have a baby, which she’s trying to do right when you start dating. Some people might see that as a red flag in a new relationship—was it scary to you at all?

SA: You know, it really wasn’t and I think because we had such a slow build in our relationshipI already knew she was trying to have kids so when it became us together, it was just sort of what she was already in the middle of. It was so serious so soon with all of that, because when that happened in the film with the surrogate, we’d only been together for two months. So it was a very intense way to start off our relationship and especially because it shifted into, “Are we doing this together? Is this yours? Are we having kids?” It was such a tricky sort of thing to navigate, and also simple in that we both wanted kids and it would have been great. But it was tricky.

 

AE: Any updates on that front you want to give?

SA: I’m sure it’s what Tig said, which is we are very much in the process of doing that but not sharing the “how.” We’re working on it.

 

AE: Even though the film is about Tig, it’s kind of an unofficial coming out for you. How did you feel about that being a part of it?

SA: That’s what’s so strange about it because I didn’t even think about that, actually. It was my own personal thing and now it’s in the documentary, I’m like “Oh my god—it’s now this thing that other people are asking me about and relating to.” I’m sort of happy about it because it was so surprisingly difficult and even since that time two years ago, I feel like the world has shifted exponentially in that area. And I can’t believe how hard that was for me and how easy it should have been. It’s funny because I didn’t ever feel like I was coming out because I never thought I was gay. So it’s like even in telling my parents, it was never that moment of like, “Oh my god, I’m finally gonna share this and act on it.” It was the actual revelation within myself. 

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AE: So what is it like now for people to refer to you as gay?

SA: I think that’s what I struggled with and what I think now is so dumb. Those words seem so meaningless and hard to define, and even within the gay community, people are like, “Okay, sure, I’m gay,” but it’s so complex. I feel like it’s so that spectrum, and people slide all over it that it’s like yeah, you could say I’m gay, you could say I’m bisexual but I don’t really know what really means.

 

AE: Do you have any other projects you’ve been working on that you’re excited about?

SA: I have a movie coming out called People Places Things which comes out August 14 [on limited release]. And Tig and I did a film together called Still Punching the Clown, which I think is coming out this fall at festivals.

Stephanie with co-star Jemaine Clement in “People Places Things”ppt

AE: Have you been offered more work with LGBT themes or characters?

SA: You know, I definitely feel like I go in and read for more and I’m always like, I don’t think I’m that publicly out. Like the documentary comes out today, and I can’t ever place that. It’s an interesting thing as an actor because you’re like, “I don’t want people to pigeonhole me,” but there’s definitely been moments where I thought, “Did I not get that because I’m gay and they couldn’t visualize me?” or whatever it is. And then I’m like, “God, you know, if that’s the case, I do not want to work with those people.” It’s kind of a nice way to weed out the bad.

 

AE: When you watch Tig, is there anything that surprises you about you or Tig or your relationship?

SA: I didn’t feel that our love story was at all what was being made when we were shooting it. I felt like I was just tagging along on Tig’s journey of stand-up and it’s funny to me when I watch it, how much our relationship and the baby and that stuff is so prominent in it. I really like it but I definitely thought it was more of a stand-up documentary that was being made.

 

AE: But there’s a lot of cute moments, like the two of you riding in a carriage. That’s so sweet.

SA: [laughs] Yeah, that montage! I don’t know if I like it or if I cringe, but when they go in slow motion with me playing basketball. At ever festival, it gets a laugh and I’m like, “Yeah, what are we laughing at?” I also think it’s so funny because at that moment in the documentary, it’s basically me saying I didn’t know if I was gay and then they show this ridiculous stereotypical gay basketball person. It’s like, “Wow, you didn’t know you were gay?” 

 

 

@stephanieallynne has it all

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AE: Now that Tig is on Netflix and it will be widely watched, is there one thing you hope people take away from the documentary?

SA: I feel like Tig is one of those people where if you’re going through something that’s difficult, she makes it easy to make light of it so that you can, in your life—even though it’s heavy—it doesn’t have to be that end of the world, just weighted thing. That you can kind of keep moving forward and I feel like her perspective and who she is as a person really shines in that—more so than in other things, I think. That’s definitely my favorite part and what I hope people take away from it.

 

Tig is streaming on Netflix now.

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