Boyish girl, interrupted

Tig Notaro at Taft Theatre

By Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

Photo: Comedian Tig Notaro will perform at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati on Oct. 24; photo: Ruthie Wyatt

Comedian, writer and actress Tig Notaro has a way about her that sets a room at ease. She makes all the hard work look uncomplicated, no matter the medium. Whether she’s acting alongside Sarah Silverman or Amy Schumer, making a guest appearance on Conan or This American Life or working rooms across the country on tour, Notaro is a woman who can roll with just about anything and does it without letting anything roll over her.

Directly following a bout of facing down one misfortune after another in 2012 (hospitalization for an infection, the sudden death of her mother, breaking up with her girlfriend and a bilateral breast cancer diagnosis – all within a four month period of time), Notaro popped right back up on stage and performed a startlingly honest stand-up set at Largo in Los Angeles. The recording of this set resulted in her Grammy-nominated album, Live, which has been touted as “masterful” by the likes of Louis C.K.

The industrious humorist still hasn’t slowed down and is currently touring the country with her Boyish Girl Interrupted Tour 2014. From the colorful autumn road between Charlottesville, Va., and Durham, N.C., Notaro spoke with the Dayton City Paper about the comedy community, installing the “go to hell” button and life on the road.

How have you managed to maintain your identity while working in the entertainment industry?

I think it just has been engrained in me. My whole life my mother would always tell me, if anyone had a problem with me, to tell them to go to hell. And that was kind of my starting point in life. Not that I’m rude and in people’s faces, but I think my core of who I am is not too concerned with what people think or expect of me. – Tig Notaro

So there’s not some secret button to push? You were just raised that way?

I guess it’s the “go to hell” button. I guess that would be it. – TN

What did you learn during that span of time in 2012 when all of those awful things happened all at once? What did you put in your arsenal for the next time things take a turn for the worse?

I was already a not very reactionary person. And more than ever, I feel like I can assess what is actually going on in a situation and put importance on things as they appear in front of me. A lot of times, people will be spiraling out of control about some stress in their day. I have seen that things can ultimately be OK and work out, especially when it’s not a life-threatening situation at hand. It’s very helpful, and keeping your cool is just knowing that things will be okay. You just have to take a beat. – TN

How has the traveling been for this tour?

I’m really enjoying this tour more than I’ve enjoyed touring in quite some time. It’s funny because when you’re starting out as a stand-up, you’re driving all over the country and just wishing the day will come that you can fly everywhere. And then, finally, it came in my career that I could fly everywhere. And then now, this tour, I’m driving everywhere and I’m so happy to not be in airports. Like, I can’t even explain the level of joy that I’m experiencing, that I don’t have a flight to catch, that I can get up whenever I want, go out to eat, go find a Whole Foods or something, or go to the bank – just do whatever I want to do in each town and then just kind of roll out onto the road whenever I want. It’s been relaxing. I find a healthy meal, exercise and then just get on the road. So I’m really enjoying it, genuinely, genuinely enjoying myself. And the shows have all been so much fun. Every city has been a blast. – TN

Do you find that the comedy community is close-knit? Or is it a gnarly beast that you ride until you just can’t ride anymore?

I feel like, in general, with the comedians that I’ve come up with from the beginning of my career, I really haven’t come across too many rotten people. There’ve been a few that have popped up over the last couple of years where they’re very competitive and jealous, and I really don’t want anything to do with them or that whole world, but I think that you find that everywhere. I’ve really had a great experience with the people that I’ve come up with, and I think, as a whole, the comedy community is tight. And I think it’s that Band of Brothers kind of feel. Even if you don’t know somebody, but you hear something happened to somebody, you feel connected. – TN

I imagine the loss of Joan Rivers and Robin Williams rippled across the lot of you.

Oh, yeah. Joan Rivers was a huge influence for me. She’s one of my favorites my whole life, my whole career. I had just seen her in concert a few months before she died and, you know, of course, you can say, “Well, she was old,” but she’d drop her body down on the stage and flop around, jump back up in her high heels and run around. It was exhausting, and I couldn’t believe she wasn’t tired. And I was marveling over her energy. But, yeah, of course you feel the ripples of that. I think I felt it more with Joan just because she was such a huge part of growing up and inspiration for me. I, of course, love Robin Williams as well. I think everyone felt those losses to some degree. – TN

Most definitely. And Rivers was just such a hard worker. The woman never stopped. I see that in you, too. You’re relentless, and it’s inspiring.

Well, I’m trying to reel it in a little bit. … My big fantasy in life is to just be at my house with a day off. – TN

Tig Notaro and her Boyish Girl Interrupted Tour 2014 will be at the Ballroom of the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati on Friday, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 the day of the show and may be purchased at For more information, or to download her albums, please visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin at To read more from Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin, visit her website at

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About Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

View all posts by Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin
Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin is a writer and amateur cartographer living in Dayton, Ohio. She has been a member of PUSH (Professionals United for Sexual Health) since 2012 and is currently serving as Chair. She can be reached at or through her website at

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