James Dempsey: 30 minutes of searing comedy puts breast-cancer battle in spotlight
A STAND-UP walks onto the stage at the Largo in Los Angeles. She is there to perform her regular set, a 30-minute gig, dropping the sort of deadpan jokes that have drawn the 300-strong audience to see her. You’re probably not familiar with her; maybe you’d recognise her from an episode of The Office, or perhaps you saw her perform in the Iveagh Gardens last July at the Vodafone Comedy Festival. Tig Notaro takes the mic...
“Good evening, hello… I have cancer, how are you? Hi… is everybody having a good time? I have cancer, how are you?”
What follows is a now legendary set, described by double-Emmy winner Louis CK, perhaps the most significant comic working in America today, as one of the finest stand-up performances he’s ever seen in his 27-year career. In it, Notaro talks openly and honestly about her situation and life, seeming to come to terms live on stage in front of 300 strangers with her very recent diagnosis of Stage 2 Breast Cancer in both of her breasts. And what makes it stand out is that this is stand-up elevated to art, a painfully honest and tragically funny examination of the human condition, coming to terms with mortality in a way that touches everybody.