Tig Notaro on her new Amazon series and taking her top off for comedy

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In less than six months, Tig Notaro has had three different projects available for fans, both old and new. In April, the out comic debuted her special Knock Knock it’s Tig Notaro, where she went across the country to perform in the homes (or barns or yards) of different people. Then just last week, the documentary Tig premiered on Netflix, giving an in-depth look at the last few years of her life that included a bout of C-Diff, a break-up, the loss of her mother, a cancer diagnosis and the meeting of her now-fiancee, Stephanie Allynne. Coming up on August 22, HBO will air Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted, an hour-long stand-up special filmed in Boston this past May. 

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“I mean, I don’t—I wish I had a more thought-out plan. I think that, as boring as it sounds, I think I wanna do what feels right at each moment,” Tig told AfterEllen during an interview at TCA. But, like most things that happen for her, when it rains, it pours. It was also announced yesterday that Tig is getting her own show on Amazon, co-written and produced with Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer’s Body). Amazon’s description of the show reads:

“Tig Notaro has just recovered from an abdominal disease that has left her gaunt, wasted, exhausted and pretty much stripped of everything except her finely honed sense of the absurd. Abruptly summoned home to Pass Christian, Miss., to take her ailing mother off life support, Tig finds herself dealing with her clingy girlfriend, her dysfunctional Gulf Coast family and the loss of the one person who held everything together.” 

“It’s not sitcom-y but it’s very personal,” Tig said. “And I would say it’s a good mix of reality and tossing in some made-up stuff. It’s scripted. We’re shooting the pilot mid-September and then they bought the rest of the series for scripts so we’re writing right now—I have a writers’ room and we’re developing the rest of the series right now and I’m really happy with everything.”

Louis C.K. will also serve as an executive producer on the show, but Tig says she only gets to talk shop with her friend “here and there” because “Louie is a friend but he’s also the busiest person in the world. I think people assume I’m hanging out with Sarah [Silverman] and Louis all the time,” Tig said. “Sarah I see a lot more but Louie’s more, I get a call, ‘Hey, you wanna open for me at this stadium?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, I was about to sit down for dinner but alright.'”

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Tig’s life has changed in major ways over the past year, and her success is accompanied by the inevitable newfound interest from a growing fanbase. When asked about how she feels about the growing interest in her personal life and if she’s okay with it, she said, “I guess I have to be. I have this platform to tell my story and I felt very lucky to have that opportunity and obviously I have boundaries—not that I’m inundated with people, but I think there’s a happy medium that I’m trying to find,” Tig said. “Because people want to tell me their stories. I feel lucky that I was able to tell mine in so many different ways and it’s—when people do share their experiences and stories with me, I feel alive again on another level. It’s a reminder of, gosh, this is—I mean it’s silly, but we’re alive, none of this stuff out there matters. You want to be happy and healthy and around your loved ones and that’s what those stories do for me and I think what my story has done for other people.”

Still, there are some awkward moments.

“When Stephanie and I have been out to eat at times—when we first dating she was like, ‘How do you just leave these people hanging?’ And I’m like ‘Well, I said hello, I took a picture and now I want to finish my meal,’ and she’s like, ‘But they’re just still standing there, staring at you.’ And I’m like, ‘That’s not my problem,'” Tig said. “The worst part is, ‘Hello, I’m not a weird person, I’m just a fan.’ ‘Oh, okay, nice to meet you.’ And then [stares] then they just stand there. Now Stephanie’s a little more like, ‘Okay, I’m on your side. It’s time for people to move along.’ But, again, I’m not inundated. I’m not the Beatles level of craziness. But when people are locked into the story, they relate on some level. And there’s definitely that connection there.”

That’s not to say Tig is not appreciative of new fans. She acknowledges most people are friendly and genuinely seem to care about her well-being.

“This is so unusual,” Tig said, “To go through such horrible events publicly and people are aware of all my ups and downs—I’ll be crossing a street and somebody will say, ‘Hey there’s a health food restaurant down here, I think you’d really like it. I hope you’re doing well!”

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Tig said she has been spending a lot of time at home so it’s not that she’s meeting and greeting on a daily basis. Although she and Stephanie are still working on building a family, a process that was well-documented in Tig, their new addition is a kitten named Fluff.

“Stephanie and I are constantly like, ‘Oh, she got on the couch!’ ‘Oh, she’s going to the kitchen!’ Oh, oh she’s sitting—look she’s…’ I was telling Stephanie, ‘I’m sure she’s just like ‘shut up and find something to do’ because we’re just really announcing every move that she makes. And I’m sure she’s like, ‘You guys are losers,'” Tig said.

Tig is such an agreeable and likable person that it’s hard to find a negative review of her work, but occasionally she happens upon someone who isn’t a fan, which she said she finds entertaining.

“When people don’t like my stand-up—I’m too mellow or dry—I’m on their side. We all have different tastes. That’s totally fine,” she said. “I really feel that way. I almost enjoy when people aren’t a fan. Because it’s interesting. It’s like when I’m on stage and doing stand-up and my name’s on the marquee. There’s a reason you’re here and if you’re miserable, what was the mix-up, you know? This woman was like, Well, she brought me. Not a fan. And the theater was like, ‘Ohhhhh.’ and I’m like, ‘No, it’s fine! you know? I’m not for everyone, you know?”

Up until this week, Tig has maintained a Facebook page but not a Twitter account, and even though she has an official verified Twitter as of Monday, she hasn’t used it once. In fact, she didn’t realize it was even in action, with celebrity friends like Sarah Silverman and Kumail Nanjiani Tweeting on her behalf. 

“Stephanie was on Twitter when we were driving and she’s like, ‘Oh, you have 15,000 Twitter followers,'” Tig said. “I was like, ‘Did that start?'”

Most of the time, Tig will hear from people on Facebook or through her manager, which she said has happened a lot since Tig hit Netflix, and she’ll only hear more once Boyish Girl Interrupted hits HBO. During the show, she takes off her shirt and does part of her set topless, revealing her torso post-double mastectomy.

“I always say I think [my nipples] in a dumpster in an alley in Hollywood with rats pulling on them, fighting over them,” Tig joked. “It’s quite a visual. I really freed the nipple.”

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Tig said she came up with the idea to disrobe after she went through the post-procedure experience of feeling self-conscious before eventually embracing her new body..

“You know, I’ve had people—not very many, but a few people reach out and congratulate me on my free top surgery when I was going through that,” Tig said. “And I was hurt by that because I was in a traumatic situation and never considered having—I didn’t experience that. I was just like, I have cancer and so I’m having a double-mastectomy but getting to know my body again and scars and all that was a whole ordeal and I was very insecure and uncomfortable for quite a while. And then I started dating again and the confidence came back because the person I was seeing immediately, in the middle of all that, thought I was sexy and that I looked cool and good and I just slowly built my confidence up.”

When she is moving around the stage half-naked, it becomes a different kind of humorous experience where viewers are forced to consider why our own bodies are so jarring. To Tig, it’s exhilarating.

“It became this idea of I thought it would be funny on stage to have my shirt off and make a statement but also have a silliness to it,” Tig said. “And I hope that came across, that I’m doing what can sometimes can be sometimes be considered as hacky material, like airplane travel, while my shirt’s off. To me, that was the fun of it, with people like, ‘Is she gonna ignore that her shirt’s off?’ I definitely have an awareness but I think it’s like anybody in the audience—I think the majority of the people will tell you that it comes in waves when you have an awareness and then you don’t.”

It sounds like she was successful, sharing a story from someone who approached her after the show.

“This one guy came up to me and was like, ‘This has nothing to do with male or female, having cancer, not having cancer, this is about being a human being and getting that this is just our body. We need to relax. How is any of this taboo?’ And he was like, ‘This did so much for me as a person, alive, existing right now,'” Tig said. “And it was like, God, that felt really good to hear because that’s what I want it to be.”

If any of this might worry you that Tig has gotten too woo-woo for your liking, rest assured knowing Tig’s stand-up still has the same sardonic qualities it always has, and even though she has now added a few more descriptors to her bio like cancer survivor, aspiring mom and, soon, married woman, Tig said she hasn’t lost focus on how she sees herself. 

“People might see me as certain things, but I’m not embracing an identity. I know that whatever I do, I want to do the best I can, and I wanna be the funniest I can, and that’s kind of—if every day and every show I do from here on out I’m mentioning tragic events, that must be exactly what I feel like doing. And if I don’t ever talk about it again, that must be exactly how I feel,” Tig said. “I don’t know if that makes sense. I don’t see myself as anything other than a comedian, and I really feel that way.”

Tig is on Netflix now. Boyish Girl Interrupted airs August 22 at 10pm on HBO.