Tig Notaro on Fresh Air

Step 1: Read this post.

Step 2: Listen to this interview.

Step 3: Buy the set.

And that is how you maximize your Tig potential.

Tig Notaro announced this week that her double mastectomy was successful, doctors believe they removed all of the cancer and they told her she has only a 7% chance of recurrence. Obviously, this is amazing news! and I’m glad that she will be around to make people laugh/cry/think for many years to come. Also, when (not if) you buy her set, most of the proceeds go to breast cancer charities, so it counts as a good deed.

Here’s an excerpt from Tig Notaro’s Fresh Air interview:

GROSS: So what did it feel like the first time you got a laugh?

NOTARO: I wasn’t expecting it. It’s so interesting, I didn’t account for laughter, which seems odd, but I had been talking to myself for so long at my apartment. I was so focused on getting all of my material down and when I got on stage at the coffee shop and people laughed, I remember being taken aback. I was like, oh, oh that’s what I was telling you this for, was for the laughter, but I just didn’t even, didn’t even factor it in at all but it was so exhilarating.

GROSS: So a lot…

NOTARO: So much so that I the second night I did stand up I thought because the first night went so well I was like oh, this is so easy. So I went and I…

(LAUGHTER)

NOTARO: I competed in a standup competition and I got booed off the stage and walked offstage, really. I was like what am I doing?

GROSS: And how come you weren’t so discouraged that you never went back on stage again?

NOTARO: It’s that thing of comedy. It’s that roller coaster that just sucks you in. It’s kind of like gambling, I guess. You hit big one time and then you bottom out, and you’re like oh, I can hit big again, and so that just kind of keeps you going. Luckily, I’m not a gambler, or a drinker or, you know, I get my fix of comedy.

Also, Louis CK, who is releasing Tig’s set through his website, and who has been a guest on Fresh Air before, spoke with Terry Gross about why Tig’s set is, in his words, “masterful.”

Here’s an excerpt from Louis CK’s interview:

GROSS: From a comic’s perspective, what made the set so good?

C.K.: Well, you know, for comedians you see everything. We know all the tricks so it’s hard to impress a comedian with comedy. But some people have a sound that’s just theirs that’s patented. It’s kind of like horn players. There’s probably times that Charlie Parker would tell John Coltrane, you know, I saw this guy in Chicago you got to hear him. I mean, nobody’s doing what this guy is doing. Tig has this really beautiful sound on stage. She has this way of dropping her jokes that are – they’re wonderful deadly jokes. And they’re about small things usually, like bees and drapes, but they’re incredible.

So here she is applying it to something really big. It was an incredible example of what comedy is good at, which is taking people to the scary parts of their mind and making them laugh in those scary places. That’s a great gift. And some of us do it through calculation or through repetition and, kind of, like, you know, focusing on a bit and refining it. Tig just went up there with her voice and in front of us she processed her own death, her own imminent death, with humor, with comedy, which is this very pure oxygen-rich environment.

You know, she did something about looking at a picture of herself when she was five and saying to this cute little picture, you’re going to get cancer. And we’re all going, oh my god. And I never – for me, I kept – I was crying and laughing the whole time and hearing the audience lurching back and forth, exploding, then hushed – totally hushed – and then exploding again. It’s like I never saw anything like it, the way that she controlled it.

A note about that bold section above, that would have absolutely make me cry.  FO SHO.

UPDATE: Amazing! So many funny, touching moments. A lot of variety. This is one of the bravest things I’ve ever heard before; I can’t imagine being able to stand up in front of strangers and share such personal things.

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Bill Hader on Fresh Air

Bill Hader On Sketch Comedy, His Love Of Old Films

Terry Gross has the best job in the world. Just in the past couple of weeks she has interviewed Bill Hader, Ira Glass and Mike Birbiglia, and Chris Rock. Jealous! How do I get that gig?

Hader is up for an Emmy, for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.  He is also about to begin his seventh season on SNL. I’m glad someone is sticking around!

The interview is great and I really liked hearing about his childhood:

We were a big movie family — even more so than television and books. My grandparents lived next door to us when we were growing up — my mom’s parents — and they were the reading house, and our house was the movie house. And pretty much every night we would watch a movie, especially during the summer, and it was our way of relaxing.

I will keep my fingers crossed since Hader is in a tough category.  He’s up against Ed O’Neill, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, and Max Greenfield (Schmidt from New Girl).

Scott Moran and “Modern Comedian”

Modern Comedian is a new web series by Scott Moran.  Moran, a comedian, follows/films/interviews other comedians.  There will be 10 episodes (at least for this season), 3 are already posted, and new episodes are uploaded on Mondays.

So far:

The episodes are a nice length, scored by very pensive music.  They seem to focus on a facet of the comedian’s act or personality, rather than the comedian’s biography.

Moran on Moran (from his website):

Scott Moran is an up and coming stand-up comedian from Seattle, WA now based in New York City. His material explores his life as a member of the middle class in a silly and sometimes surprisingly poignant, smart-assy manner. Scott is a regular on shows all around NYC and tours the country featuring in comedy clubs and playing indie shows on a regular basis.

From Moran’s interview with thecomicscomic.com:

Were there any other documentary series like this that inspired Modern Comedian? Two things come to mind. The first being the WTF podcast which in my opinion is THE podcast. I know there are a bunch of good podcasts, but I wanted to create something visual where you could learn about a comedian. Also Errol Morris, my favorite documentary film maker, was a huge inspiration.

I love this series and am already hoping for a second season.  I also like finding out about comedians I haven’t heard of yet and this provides a great introduction. Go watch!

 

 

And Here’s the Kicker

Eventually comedy fandom evolves from mere appreciation into the search for every behind the scenes detail, including what is inside the minds of the writers.

And Here’s the Kicker is a compilation of 21 interviews with comedy writers.  The interviews were conducted and edited by Mike Sacks.

Here is what I learned from my favorite interviewees:

Stephen Merchant: Ricky Gervais and he wrote the dialogue by improvising into a tape recording and then editing it down to be typed; M*A*S*H was shown without a laugh track in England; “…there’s always the danger that we as comedy fans are writing comedy for other comedy fans [as opposed to writing for an audience]; [on the differences between American and British humor] “American humor—they’re not ashamed to use slang and vernacular…Whereas in England, there’s a need to display one’s intelligence”

Larry Wilmore: decided to devote his life to comedy after his family’s roof caved in, “I already had nothing—it’s not like I could achieve that twice;” he does a “writer’s stand-up act” (meaning it isn’t personality-driven, jokes are somewhat disconnected); worked on a canceled pilot for Fox about a white writer who joins the writing staff of a black sitcom (it was canceled because the lead wasn’t attractive enough—the actor? Paul Giamatti); “There should be no racial loyalty so much as comedy loyalty”

Bob Odenkirk: reputation as a perfectionist; considers the Mr. Show sketches “Clumsy Waiter” and “Philouza” to be the worst; “honesty is everything;” was unhappy with SNL’s writing process (if something didn’t go over well at the pitch meeting it was permanently rejected)

Paul Feig: “I’m very much a purist about memories and the truth in stories…I can think of a lot of funnier endings for everything that’s ever happened to me in my life, but that’s not the point;” while working as a script reader he realized that 99.9% of script are terrible; “the cruel side of me likes creating situations where people get buried deeper and deeper [thus raising the stakes for humiliation]

Mitch Hurwitz: earned theology and English degrees from Georgetown; [on being reluctant to encourage people to go into entertainment] “It can make a lot of people very, very unhappy;” “In retrospect, perhaps a majority of people didn’t want to see such a detailed show [Arrested Dev] and didn’t want complexity with their humor;” writers need to have compassion for their characters/stories; there was a hug in almost every episode of Arrested Dev

David Sedaris: if you want to be a good writer, you need to read; rejects exaggerating in his earlier stories (he was ‘trying too hard’ and that embellishing made it hard for audiences to believe him); edits his pieces while reading to an audience; “My main concern is to not be too corny;” he gets out of bed at 10:26 am every morning

Each interview is 10-15 pages, and covers what the writers think of their previous work, how they write, what motivates them, and their advice for aspiring comedy writers.

There’s also advice about getting hired as a sitcom or late-night writer or acquiring a literary or screenplay agent and a list of recommended reading.