Tig Notaro admits she didn't do much prepping before recording her debut album, Good One. Recorded live at Russian Recordings in Bloomington, Ind. in March, the show was just like any other for the stand-up comic, who's been performing for 14 years. Her unfussy approach worked out in her favor, and the album, released by Secretly Canadian earlier this month, debuted at No. 4 on the iTunes Comedy Top 10 list.
"The night I recorded, it just felt like a good time. Sarah [Silverman] opened for me, and we had a blast," Notaro says. "I didn't originally see the CD as a milestone, but I guess now that time is going by, it does feel a bit like one. I'm really proud of it, and the record label said the sales have exceeded their expectations, so I'm pretty thrilled about that."
A Mississippi native now based in Los Angeles, Notaro has been delivering her subtle, smart brand of comedy since abandoning a career in band management 14 years ago. Legend has it that she stepped on stage at a stand-up open mic night on a whim and was hooked from there on out. These days she's known for her appearances on The Sarah Silverman Program, Community, and every late night show worth its salt (most recently Late Night with Jimmy Fallon). Her weekly podcast Professor Blastoff on the Earwolf Network premiered at No. 1 on iTunes in May, and she's working with Silverman on a talkshow-style show for Logo called Tig Has Friends. And then there's the touring — she's performed everywhere from college campuses to SXSW to comedy festivals, including the 2010 Charleston Comedy Festival.
"I enjoy touring," she says. "I usually bring my opening act or know local comedians or have friends in the town I'm going to, so it's usually a pretty good time. And I don't have shows geared for different venues. I pretty much do what I think is funny and hope the audience agrees. I don't have a back-up plan."
Notaro says her style has remained fairly consistent over the years because she's not playing a character on stage. "I would be surprised if someone met me off stage and was alarmed by how different I am," she says. Even so, she's careful not to get stuck in a rut.
"I've allowed myself to smile, move around on stage, write one-liners and 12-minute stories," she says. "Basically I don't want to keep myself from anything that I maybe didn't see as 'my style' anymore. I just want to be funny."
Good One represents the comedienne at her best — dry, thoughtful, and smart with incomparable timing. The 14 tracks range from short and sweet one-liners, like the one about Chastity Bono's sex change (it's all in the name), to more drawn-out narratives, like the bit on encouraging '80s singer Taylor Dayne to rediscover her voice. Other topics of discussion include her family tree, abused phrases, and "little titties." Notaro says her material comes to her, and comes out, pretty naturally.
"I never just sit down and write just for the sake of writing," she says. "I'm totally more apt to have something just strike me and then jot the word down, then go on stage and just talk it out."
Her confident style has assured her a spot among the cool kids of comedy, like BFF Silverman, although she says their interactions are surprisingly boring.
"Talking with Sarah would luckily never sound like a sitcom, unless the sitcom was the most unremarkable show on TV," she says. "Things like, 'Wanna come over and swim today?' 'OK.' Or 'Let's hike and then grab lunch!' 'Sounds good to me!'
She's also collaborated with comedic heavy-hitters like Zach Galifianakis, Aziz Ansari, and Natasha Leggero. "I love the comedy community," she says. "I'm sure there are cutthroat comedians, but luckily I haven't surrounded myself with them. It's a great, supportive, and close gaggle of misfit toys. I love it."
As for what's next for her career, she continues to aim high.
"I'll be the new host of The Oprah Winfrey Show," she says.