The wonderful thing about Tig is….

She wasn’t actually the last comic standing, but dry-witted lesbian standup Tig Notaro has scored legions of fans

TIG NOTARO
With Mark Agee. The Kessler, 1230 W. Davis St. Aug. 30. 7:30 p.m. $15. TheKessler.org

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With a sense of humor so dry, you want to offer her a glass of water, out comedian Tig Notaro knows exactly what to say and how to say it to get a laugh. On her new and aptly named debut comedy disc Good One (Secretly Canadian), she touches on a variety of topics, ranging from Chastity Bono and Taylor Dayne to artificial insemination and babies taking showers. We spoke with Notaro just prior to the release this month of her album.

— Gregg Shapiro

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Dallas Voice: What was the best part of your Last Comic Standing experience?  Notaro: I wasn’t on for very long, maybe two or three episodes. To me it was kind of a ridiculous thing. There were so many comedians who took it very seriously. I guess it’s a good opportunity for people to burst onto the scene out of nowhere. For me, I was kind of glad I didn’t get into the final round — I enjoyed that I just made it to the semi-final round. When you get to that level, you’re just on for three minutes, just doing a set. It’s kind of like doing a late-night talk-show set. That was the best thing. And I made some good friends out of it. I’m doing this Podcast now with David Huntsberger, who I met on Last Comic Standing. In general, it’s kind of a blur to me. It happened so quickly in such a short amount of time that it wasn’t this monumental thing that happened. I kind of forget that I was on it.

Who are your comedy inspirations? Before I got into standup, I was really into Richard Pryor and Joan Rivers and Paula Poundstone and Steve Martin, people like that. It changed when I got into standup. I really started to be inspired by my peers that I was coming up with — Maria Bamford, Zach Galifianakis and Sarah Silverman. That’s who started influencing and inspiring me after I got started. Your tastes get so refined. Not that I don’t think the others were great still, but I would rather listen to my friends these days.
How does it feel to be the first comedian to release a comedy album on uber-hipster indie label Secretly Canadian? I’m thrilled. I feel so honored and lucky. I’d been offered deals with different comedy labels, but it just didn’t appeal to me. I know I’m not the biggest comedian ever [though] if people are into comedy, they probably know who I am. When Secretly Canadian offered me a deal, my manager said, “We’ll look at [the deal] and I’ll talk to the label.” I said, “You can talk all you want, but I know in my gut that I’m signing.” They’ve been so supportive and helpful. They’ve carried out every part of what they’ve promised. It’s just cool. It feels good.

How did you decide what material to include on something as significant as your debut album Good One? I wanted to mix in some things that I had written in the past year that was a little newer. But then I also wanted to put some less popular, older bits of mine on there. I was [recently] in Philadelphia and for my whole show, this woman kept saying “No moleste,” which I guess is my signature bit. She kept turning to her husband saying, “When is she going to do it? I can’t wait until she does ‘No moleste.’” I was like, “Lady! Shut your trap!” I feel like I had to put certain bits on there and for my own good I wanted to put in some newer stuff. There’s also some improvisational things that were more in the moment. That’s how all my shows are — new stuff, old stuff, right on the spot.

So “No moleste” is your “Free Bird.” I guess so. But I feel like my Taylor Dayne story that I wrote in the past year is creeping up on that popularity.

Do you know if Taylor Dayne is aware of being the subject of a comedy routine? Has she contacted you? Yeah, her agent contacted my manager a month or two ago. Her agent told my manager that Taylor wanted me to know that she heard through the grapevine that I was telling this story about her and that she’s a fan of mine and that she’d like to work with me one day [laughs]. I don’t know what on earth we would do together, but I know I don’t need a comedy partner. And I also know I can’t sing. But, yeah, it’s the weirdest and funniest thing that has ever come my way. The Taylor Dayne story just won’t stop giving.

The deluxe edition includes the “Have Tig at Your Party” DVD, described as the “human equivalent to the ‘burning log’ DVD.” What was the inspiration for the concept? Touring so much, I missed so many parties and get-togethers. This friend of mine, years ago, was having a party. And I was sitting in my hotel room thinking, what if I videotaped myself in my hotel room and I just mailed that to her and she could just play it at her party. I didn’t do it, but it inspired the idea of me making that DVD. And every time I mentioned it to people, they would laugh and say, “You have to do that!” So I did and hopefully people will enjoy it. It’s me standing there and I say very little every now and then.

You are going to be on tour for the next several months. What are you looking forward to about being on the road? When I’m doing my college tour, I’m bringing my old friend Tom Sharp as my opener. He’s such a funny guy. We came up in comedy together. He used to write for Zach Galifianakis. With the regular tour dates, I’m hitting a lot of major cities and I have so many friends in those cities. I’m going to be doing venues that I’ve never done, even though I’ve been to those cities before. I’m anxious to see some old friends, hit some new venues. I think it’s going to be a good time.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Pam Grier talked movies, relationships and even ‘The L Word’ on Saturday in South Dallas

In the triple-digit heat, Pam Grier proved she still has drawing power. Her book signing event filled the auditorium Saturday at the South Dallas Cultural Center, where she talked about her life and Hollywood and followed up with a gracious and patient book signing/photo session.The gay contingent present was far outweighed by the men and women who obviously watched Grier throughout ’70s cinema.You could literally see the men falling in love all over again with Foxy Brown and the women remembering the heroics of Coffy as inspiration.

She ran a bit late, but Grier received a standing ovation upon coming out. She looked both casual and elegant as she took the mike. I overheard earlier that she would be reading from her book, but instead she just let loose and began talking about her life. As a speaker, Grier was a little disorganized. She went on tangents about organic gardening and the economy. There were mini-moments where she had lost the audience, but magically, she would tie it back to her career and get back on track. She discussed her romances with Richard Pryor and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar which are also in the book. She was never salacious about her recounts. Instead, she painted quirky, funny memories of her with Pryor and detailed some major inner conflict with Jabbar’s request for her to convert to Islam. When it came to her own life, she painted distinct pictures.

Ears pricked when she discussed film director Quentin Tarantino and their film Jackie Brown. After her initial meeting with him, he told her he had a script. Later, she received a notice from the post office that a package was waiting for her but 44 cents postage was due. She got around to picking it up three weeks later and discovered the script. She read it and loved it. She acknowledged that it was going to be low budget because “heck, it didn’t even have enough postage!”

During her speech, she didn’t mention her role as Kit on The L Word, but for that matter, didn’t discuss a big chunk of her acting work, but thankfully a woman asked about the role. She reiterated much of her answer in Mark Lowry’s article this week that she got much of her LGBT education from doing that show and how enlightening it was for her. It was nice to hear her talk up lesbians in a positive fashion to a crowd in which the topic might not have come up otherwise. Some heads nodded, some wondered and some shut off — but it was moving to see a celebrity admit to not knowing much about LGBT issues and people and then embracing it. On a personal note, she seemed to dig that I asked her to sign for my boyfriend.

She was funny, she was cool, she was down but by the end of the event, Pam Grier wasn’t just an iconic celebrity — she was also a regular person. And that made her even more foxy.

—  Rich Lopez