Tig Notaro on Denver, Sarah Silverman and hanging on to the mike for dear life
After getting her start in the inner workings of the entertainment biz as a music promoter (for a while in Denver), Tig Notaro got an itch to be on stage -- not as a musician, but as a comedian. In that respect, she's been more successful than many; she's done specials on Comedy Central Presents and been a regular character on the now-defunct but iconic Sarah Silverman Program, and more recently is gearing up to star in a comedy variety show called Tig Has Friends, with Silverman as executive producer. Currently, she's working on a comedy disc to be released sometime this year on the indie-pop label Secretly Canadian. In advance of her show next week at the hi-dive, we caught up with Notaro to talk about momentum, out-of-body experiences and fear.
Tig Notaro has friends.
Westword: Before you were a standup comedian, you were a music promoter. How did you get into that line of work?
Tig Notaro: Just a fan of music, and I had friends that had bands, and I'm a musician myself, but I wasn't -- I was too scared to actually perform. So, I don't know, music promotion stuff was just kind of a way to be around it and not have to actually perform. But that was just such a small blip in my life. It was helpful for my career when I got into standup, because I understood that you have to kind of be at a certain point before any business can kind of happen behind you.
WW: You said you have to be at a certain point -- what point do you mean?
TN: You have to have a career that has some momentum behind it before you can have any sort of representation really working for you. A lot of people, artists, want representation so they can forward their career, but you have to create and work on your career to get some momentum going so that the business can get behind you. So that was helpful for me to know from working in the music business, that I needed to focus on my career and work hard at writing and performing to move that along so I'd be valuable to the business.
WW: It's interesting that you were too afraid to perform musically but you're not too afraid to perform standup, which, I would imagine a lot of people would say would actually be more nerve-racking.
TN: Yeah, I mean, I can understand that. I think for me it was that I used to shake so much -- out of fear -- when I played guitar, if anyone watched me. Like, it was such a private thing that I would do alone at my house, and if anyone watched me play, I would get so nervous that I would shake and I wasn't able to play the guitar. So to perform live in front of an audience would just make that, uh, times a million. Whereas with standup, you can leave the mike in the mike stand and hold on for dear life, you know, and people won't necessarily see you shaking.
But I think also standup just came more naturally to me, that it wasn't so scary. I got pretty good at guitar and drums, but it wasn't... standup just felt so right from the second that I did it.