Tragedy + time = comedy. But I don’t have the benefit of time. – Tig Notaro
If you think you’ve had a streak of bad luck it’s unlikely to match comedian Tig Notaro’s this year. Not two weeks ago Notaro was diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts. This, after having just survived a hellish series of illnesses and family tragedy. Here’s blogger and comedian Kira Hesser on Notaro’s set at the LA comedy club Largo on August 4:
But she didn’t just have cancer. She went on to explain that in some manic twist of fate, while her career is at an all-time high — she is moving to New York to work on Amy Schumer’s new television show, she was on This American Life — concurrently, all these terrible circumstances have befallen her over the past 3 months: pneumonia made way for a debilitating bacterial infection in her digestive tract for which she was hospitalized and lost 30 pounds off of her already small frame, days after being released from the hospital, her young mother died suddenly and tragically (fell, hit her head, died), then she and her partner broke up, and then, now, cancer. In both breasts. (“You have a lump.” “No, doctor, that’s my breast.” — one of her most renowned bits is about someone remarking upon her small breasts)
Notaro cohosts a great weekly comedy podcast called Professor Blastoff with Kyle Dunnigan and David Huntsberger that I’ve been listening to since last year. The personal, weekly nature of podcasts draws listeners into the lives of the hosts with an intimacy unlike any other medium. As listeners, we experienced Notaro’s absence from the show while in hospital and then grieving her mother, we heard her reflect on these things upon her return, and now on the last episode we listened to her discuss her cancer diagnosis. If you’ve not heard of Notaro, this is an awkward introduction to a comedian. But I’d invite you to watch her sets on YouTube and consider buying her new comedy album Good One (released on the indie label Secretly Canadian, incidentally).