Friday, October 12, 2012
Multi-Media, October 12, 2012
[PUBLISHER'S NOTE: This is a new weekly column where we will be reviewing theatre and theatre discussion translated to other media: books, playscripts, recordings, television broadcasts, DVDs etc.]
The Phenomenon that is Tig
In 30 minutes, your perceptions of performance (and life) will change
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
He was standing offstage and minutes later everything was different. That is how one of the finest comics in the world, Louis CK, described what he saw and heard when Tig Notaro walked onto the stage. "What followed was one of the greatest standup performances I ever saw. I can't really describe it but I was crying and laughing and listening like never in my life." After the performance he asked the club manager if he had recorded the set, found it had been and was, in fact, well-recorded. Then CK decided the world needed to hear Notaro's half-hour. He put it up as a $5 download on his website louisck.net and told everyone to listen.
And I am telling you as well: you must listen to Tig Notaro Live.
Before I tell you what Notaro says, let me say, firstly, that she was, even before this recording, a pretty solid comic. Her delivery is lowkey, deadpan - almost dead-on-arrival. She did lazy/hilarious imitations, she told stories that went on for years - like a true tale of how she would run into singer Taylor Dayne over and over and over again. She had a connection with her audience that was easy and loose.
What happens in this recording is still Notaro but she takes her relationship with the audience to a place I've never seen. It is both a horrifying and hilarious place and her audience flows with her and you can hear them laughing, gasping and - quite simply - loving her. Not loving her as a crowd loves a performer, but loving her as empathetic humans love someone living a tragedy.
Notaro begins by saying that she has cancer. Is it a bit? The audience laughs nervously. It is not a bit. For the next 30 minutes you find out that a cancer diagnosis is maybe the least of the shitstorm she is living. But there is humour, and laughter and an audience that immediately understands that - with the comic - they are walking a highwire.
It never veers from pathos to bathos. It never falls from performance to self-pity. It is pure and new and you will probably never hear anything like it again.