Response to Tig Notaro’s stand-up memoir.

Upon listening to Tig Notaro’s life narrative, I found it difficult to categorize it. Yes, it is a memoir, for Notaro narrates a series of tragedies that happened to her life, but personally, I found it questionable if the seriousness of those tragedies could be considered “funny” or “amusing.” Especially, after going through my wife’s cancer, chemo, radiation and surgeries, I could not see what was so funny about it. At the same time, I thought that Notaro should have felt the same thing. Notaro’s cancer, the death of her mother, the breaking-up of her relationship must have been at some point in her life—before the live—scars from which she needed therapy. That’s why I believe that life is the result, or what was left from a “private” script-therapy session that went public. Notaro talks about her disease, her mother’s death and everything else, and she sounds to be doing fine.

Additionally, she is standing there, in front of an audience telling her story. “Live” life narrative differs from written or illustrated memoirs. Her making eye contact with the audience proves that the therapy is going well, and maybe the stand-comedy session was the next step.  Just like, Jason Greene, who wrote notes on his phone to cope and overcome grief. Perhaps, Notaro’s exposure before an audience was the next step toward therapy and a step closer to her catharsis.

One thought on “Response to Tig Notaro’s stand-up memoir.”

  1. Christos,
    This is a great point: “‘Live’ life narrative differs from written or illustrated memoirs. Her making eye contact with the audience proves that the therapy is going well, and maybe the stand-comedy session was the next step.” Notaro’s comedy set is notable because she’s using it as a type of therapy as these tragedies and challenges unfold, so it’s a good case study of scriptotherapy in real time (although it’s really oral narrative therapy). But it also fits the arc of the illness narrative as described by Smith and Watson, dealing with many of the same formal challenges in terms of making the audience travel an emotional arc, making the reader (listener) “comfortable” with an uncomfortable topic, and exploring the body’s relationship with identity. So, consider it in terms of form as well as content, and you might find another layer of interest.

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