If you haven’t heard the name Tig Notaro, you live under a rock. This isn’t something I say lightly, or something I would have even said a year ago. Because I’ll be honest, I didn’t know who Tig Notaro was at this point in time last year, either. But I do now and I am thankful for it.
Last year, Tig Notaro became instantly famous in the comedy world, Twittersphere and blogosphere after a once in a lifetime stand up act at Largo. Did I mention that she was a standup comedian? No? Okay, she’s a standup comedian and a favorite of Louis C.K. and Conan, as well as people who are way more knowledgeable about standup than I am. She took the world and the audience by surprise when she came out that day to perform her standup act but instead delivered the most heartfelt, funny, tragic and moving set. Her opening line: “Good Evening! Hello. I have cancer, how are you?” Tig had been diagnosed that week with breast cancer in both breasts. After her mother passed away. After she was hospitalized with a life-threatening virus. After a bad breakup. All in the same year.
That night, she went onstage in the middle of all of her turmoil, her emotional pain and confusion, and delivered one of the greatest standup acts anyone will have had the pleasure to see or hear. She also started her healing process. She wasn’t sad and weepy, or self-pitying. She was direct and frank and funny. I’ve been lucky enough to hear this set- my friend and I downloaded it from iTunes one afternoon and we were blown away (BLOWN AWAY) by her honesty, frankness, sarcasm, and, yes, pain. She turned her pain and personal tumult into something real and human. She says during the set that often comedians use the formula “Tragedy + Time = Comedy” when writing. She didn’t have any time, but she had tragedy, and her frankness created the comedy for her. Sometimes it helps to just laugh, too.
Since then, Tig has been open with people about remaining present in your daily life (in her own sarcastic way, which makes it even better). We never know when we’ll have something taken away from us, we never know when it’ll all be over, we never know when tragedy may strike. It’s important to remain present and appreciate our lives, our health, our families while we have them.
Being present is something we all take for granted every single day, every single hour, every single minute. We are not a present species. We plan ahead, we hope and dream for things to come, we worry about what’s going on the next day, we worry about mistakes we’ve made in the past. But are we ever present? I know that I’m not. I think ahead, I wonder about what will happen, I think about my future… I do a lot of this. But I try to remember to think and appreciate great moments as they happen. I don’t want those moments that are life changing to pass me by, I want to grab them by the horns and hold on to them so they are cemented in my memory. Granted, we don’t always know which moments are going to change our lives. Some of them come out of nowhere, the good and the bad, but once they are there and are ones you can easily recognize as something that is big and huge and crazy, take those ones in and put them away.
Tig’s special, now available for download thanks to Louis C.K. who convinced her to release it, helped me remember that. I listened to it when it was released in the middle of my own bad year. It made me realize that my year wasn’t as bad as hers, though I’m sure many people could say that. It made me realize that perhaps I was being melodramatic, that I had so many things to be grateful for, to appreciate. It also made me realize the mark of a true artist. She turned her pain into something real and tangible for others to comprehend and absorb and relate to.
I have listened to more of her comedy since that day, and call myself a fan of hers. You can call me a band wagon fan all you want and I won’t deny it. I’ve immensely enjoyed her interviews since Tig Notaro: Live was released, in which she’s been even more open and forthcoming about her diagnosis, treatment and remission. Even more so, I’ve enjoyed her reminders to stay present in life. Even if that means answering a text with a funny cat picture during a national television interview.
Do yourselves a favor if you haven’t already and download Tig’s special, Tig Notaro: Live (but check yourself for the correct pronunciation before you say it out loud) from iTunes. Please actually pay for this one- the proceeds ($5) go to cancer research, guys! While you’re listening, thank her biggest fan Louis C.K. for not only convincing her to release it, but for also tweeting about the set after he had seen it.
Then, think about all the things you can do to help yourself remain present in your life, or share your tips for doing so with us, so we can help ourselves, too!