I've loved Tig Notaro from afar, but had never seen her in the flesh until Saturday night's performance at Carnegie Hall, a part of the New York Comedy Festival. God, I wish I'd seen her every chance I had.
I was in the second row, arriving just in time to receive dozens of warnings from the staff not to even think about taking pictures, audio or video, and to be told NO cell use was allowed inside the hall, period. They were literally running around playing whack-a-mole trying to shame patrons into turning their phones off prior to the show—no texting, no nothing.
One woman defined the order, turned her back to the stage and snapped some selfies. An usher shone a flashlight on her (it wasn't dark yet) and demanded she delete any images. All her images contained were her face, the barren stage and a large banner with the New York Comedy Festival logo on it. (When we left, there were signs forbidding photography in the exit, where nothing was around except portraits of past performers in frames—yes, in other words, they didn't want us to take pictures of the pictures.)
This was bullshit.
Once the show started, any hard feelings about micro-phone-managing were forgotten. Tig is such a benevolent presence, like an instant friend. Her observations are dry, like Stephen Wright, but delivered with a good-natured perplexed half-smile, letting you know she's kind of in awe of what makes her and us laugh just like we are.
She quickly dissected the humor in her own offbeat delivery, was able to make me cry with laughter over some of the out-of-nowhere comments her wife makes (a bit about a cat's accidental hanging did me in) and also poked fun at her own level of fame in a way that would have had George Carlin in awed appreciation.
She owns the absurdity of everyday life, too, such as her recollection of her wife asking in bed one night, utterly exhausted by new motherhood, “How do you have sex with a baby?” to which Tig replied, mortified, “You don't.”
The show ended with the most confidently, eternally sustained gag about Tig introducing the Indigo Girls and then running offstage, only to return each time with no Indigo Girls. She did this 10 or more times, until the crowd was demanding relief. To make the perfect routine even better, when she was finally done with it, the Indigo Girls did actually come out, playing a surprise five-song set.
Not that we could take pictures of it.
Great night. I will make it my business to see her any time she is in NYC.