Have you ever had one of those periods in your life when one thing goes wrong after the other? You find yourself asking, “Why me?” We may not be able to choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we deal with it. Tig Notaro knows this all too well.
Tig Notaro is a standup comedian who recently had a four month span filled with pain and suffering. It all started with pneumonia, leading into a life-threatening intestinal disease, followed by the tragically unexpected death of her mother, working its way into a breakup and topped off with Stage 2 breast cancer in both breasts. And just for an extra sprinkle of cruelty, her birthday was smack dab in the middle. Not much to celebrate, huh? A breakup alone will send some people into a spiral of depression.
The day she found out she had cancer, Tig (who you may recognize from her time playing a police officer on The Sarah Silverman Program) was scheduled to do a stand-up comedy show in LA. So now she had to decide how to approach the situation. She thought about going the “pity party”, route but didn’t want to make excuses for herself. She didn’t want to mention the cancer for fear of insulting anyone in the audience who had the disease, until she said to herself, “Wait, I have cancer.” In the end, she went out on stage announcing the cancer off the bat and working it into what would turn out to be the best material of her comedic life thus far.
As she did her set, the audience cried and laughed along with her. Comedian Louis C.K., her special surprise guest of the evening, tweeted, “In 27 years doing this, I’ve seen a handful of truly great, masterful standup sets. One was Tig Notaro last night at Largo.” Ed Helms of The Office and The Hangover also tweeted, “Tig Notaro just blew my mind at Largo. One of the most amazing stand-up sets I’ve ever seen.”
This could have easily been the worst day of Tig’s life. She could have easily decided to cancel her set, crawl under her covers and cry herself to sleep. Really, no one could’ve blamed her if she did. But instead she went out on that stage and gave the performance of her life.
Louis C.K. felt the audio of Tig’s performance was so important he wanted to make it available to the public. Tig’s CD “Live” (pronounced as in “Live it up”) will soon be available on his website. The title helps to reinforce the fact that no matter what you’re going through, everyday that you’re alive is another day you get to live. Portions of the proceeds from the CD will go to breast cancer charities, and I can’t wait to get one for myself.
Tig had double mastectomy surgery, getting rid of all of the cancer, and knock-on-wood, her current prognosis is great.
I think sometimes the moments when we want to cry the most are the moments we need to laugh. Cancer is a very serious disease, that we can’t deny. But if you can turn one of your biggest tragedies into one of your biggest triumphs, laugh and make others laugh with you, then I would say you just took one of life’s most sour lemons and poured yourself, and everyone who supports you, an awesome glass – no, make that a pitcher – of lemonade.