Probably best known as Officer Tig, the lesbian cop on Comedy Central’s The Sarah Silverman Program, comedian Tig Notaro released her debut album, Good One, on Hoosier indie-rock label Secretly Canadian this month. (The deluxe edition includes her Have Tig at Your Party DVD, touted as the “human equivalent of the ‘burning log’ DVD.”) Notaro tours her stand-up act steadily, cohosts a hit podcast called Professor Blastoff, and she’s working with Silverman on Tig Has Friends, a television version of the live comedy variety show she MCs at Los Angeles’s Coronet Theatre. Oh, and she claims her great-great-grandfather was a mayor of New Orleans.
On the album, you talk about several hilarious run-ins with pop singer Taylor Dayne, who had a hit with “Tell It to My Heart” in 1988. Each time you see her you say, “Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you, but I have to tell you I love your voice” and each time you get a different response. I understand she’s been made aware of these encounters appearing in your act. How do you imagine the next chance meeting with her will go?
I can’t tell you how much it would excite me to run into her again. It’s been about five years since my friend Kyle and I ran into her at a restaurant, but if I did run into her, I’d have to try to squeeze in another “Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you, but. . . .” As for how she’d react, I think I know, based on past experience, but you never know.
You talk about how you love Taylor Dayne—”and not ironically.” If Tig Has Friends becomes more than a pilot, is she someone you’d like to have perform?
What kind of question is that? Are you crazy? Of course!
When will you know if it’s going to air?
Last I heard, we’ll know something before the new year. That’s pretty much all I know. I certainly hope it airs. I’m really happy with what we did, and having the cast of Mad Men as my guests was pretty magically fun.
You found your way into stand-up comedy while working in the music business. In terms of day-to-day realities, is working in music similar to working in comedy?
Well, I was on the business side of the music world, and that’s similar to the comedy business—just entertainment in general, something I’m still very hands-on with in my day-to-day. Being a full-time comedian is a full-time job, especially when you branch out beyond just writing jokes and touring. I wake up and immediately have work to do and shows several nights a week. Having worked on the business side in music really prepared me for having to be responsible with handling my career. The lazy teenager me wouldn’t recognize me now.
How about the similarities and differences in the creative process between the two? In the collaboration between musicians and the collaboration between comedians?
I can’t really speak for collaborations between musicians because the only collaborating I’ve ever really done has been in writing scripts in comedy. That’s an amazing experience, if you find the right person to do it with. Totally inspiring. There can certainly be tense times and moments when you don’t agree on how a story or joke should go. But once it gets figured out, you feel like you’ve really pushed through a milestone in the relationship. It can feel like a marriage at times—usually in a good way.
Is it true that your great-great-grandfather was mayor of New Orleans? What more do you know about him? What were his achievements as mayor?
It is true. I think he had something to do with the city library and the drainage system. I should probably look it up. It sounds kind of pathetic to live this interesting and full life only to have your great-great-granddaughter say, “I think he had something to do with the drainage system.” You’ve inspired me to read up on him.
According to your bio, you started doing stand-up in 1498. Looking back over your long career, who are some of the performers you’ve enjoyed working with the most?
Burl Ives, Sarah Silverman, Anne Boleyn, Peter Pan, Maria Bamford, Pocahontas, Zach Galifianakis. You know—those types, always a pleasure.