Tig Notaro, Live

Anna Bond

By Anna Bond

on 10.30.12 in Reviews

2012 has been Tig Notaro’s year; 2012 has not been Tig Notaro’s year. Stricken by a bout of pneumonia that spiraled into a life-threatening bacterial infection, Notaro suffered the accidental death of her mother and a wrenching breakup before being diagnosed with stage 2 invasive cancer in both breasts – all within four months. But just as these tragedies piled up, so did her successes, as Notaro’s career began to ascend a steep trajectory.

Live – the title is the imperative verb, not the adjective – captures the now-legendary standup set Notaro performed at Los Angeles’s Largo only a few days after her diagnosis. “Hello. Good evening, hello. I have cancer. How are you?” The half-hour Notaro introduces thus is generous and revelatory, brilliantly counterpoising our human focus on the absurdly trivial with a laid-bare understanding of life’s potential for pitch-black irony.

But this set is so much more. As Notaro champion Louis C.K. has put it, Live is a rare reminder of what comedy can do at its most powerful. Live is the human condition, bone-weary and candid, placed before us without fanfare by one of our era’s most incisive and big-hearted wits; Live is the quietest triumph, a grief-borne obelisk displaying the strength of the human spirit better than any wilderness-survival memoir could hope to; Live is big-eyed, raw and grateful; Live is unbelievably funny.