She wasn’t actually the last comic standing, but dry-witted lesbian standup Tig Notaro has scored legions of fans
With Mark Agee. The Kessler, 1230 W. Davis St. Aug. 30. 7:30 p.m. $15. TheKessler.org
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
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.
Sarah Silverman is one of comedy’s edgiest talents, with her prom queen innocence masking her ignorance and prejudices. (It’s just an act.) Her shtick is being sweet and a bigot with sunny irony.
So I was a little caught off-guard seeing this video. Not a moment of irony, not a word of joking. It appears shot in her home while she was emotional about the deaths of gay teens nationwide. It also capsulizes lots of other gay rights issues. Watch.
COH 40TH ANNIVERSARY
Infomart, 1950 Stemmons
Freeway. July 24 at 7 p.m.
Earlier this month, Judy Tenuta judged a celebrity chef challenge at the Giant Orange Festival in California. The comedian likely had some A-list nibbles that day, but that won’t compare to what she expects to put her mouth on when she comes to Dallas. Tenuta, in fact, has some big expectations:
“I’m coming out there to punish you pigs and I want to strap a saddle around a beefy burrito of manhood!”
A clearer picture couldn’t be painted. The accordion-playing comedian/actress isn’t heading this way for a night at the Improv. No, she and her love slaves will partake in the Cathedral of Hope’s 40th anniversary celebration — which clearly notes this isn’t your mother’s church event. And despite her sexually charged act, Tenuta might be right at home playing for the church crowd.
“I’m the Love Goddess,” she proclaims. “I bless my gay men and women. Oh, and this isn’t gonna be boring like church, it’s gonna be a sassy, fun sermon.”
Tenuta may seem a product of the ’80s, where you expect her to pop on any VH1 special about the decade or as an answer in Trivial Pursuit’s Totally ’80s edition. But the funny lady famous for her bevy of musclestuds and her signature slogan “It could happen!” hasn’t disappeared. Instead, she’s figuring out her place in today’s entertainment world dominated by the likes of her comic successors like Sarah Silverman and Kathy Griffin.
“Celebrity is about scandal,” she says. “You have to be on TV shows. I need to get on America’s Most Wanted, but I’m not like Charlie Sheen — I’m a law-abiding citizen. Who are these housewives of so-and-so getting these shows? If you throw tables at each other and start fights, you get a show. I was supposed to be on Dancing with the Stars but it seems like a beating. But if Clitoris Leachman can do it…”
THE MANY FACES OF THE LOVE GODDESS | Whether she’s dissing on Sarah Palin or looking like a housewife of Orange County, Tenuta is still a goddess with ‘beefy burritos of manhood’ never far off.
Tenuta is still in the game even without a reality show. She’s been on the road with her Full Frontal Tenudity tour and played a nun in the indie film Sister Mary last year with gay pal Bruce Villanch. (She calls the movie “campy fun for the gays.”) If the comic career path doesn’t work out for her though, she does have a fall-back perfect for her Dallas gig: Tenuta is an ordained minister.
“In my religion, Judyism, gays have the right to be married,” she says. “I’m an ordained minister and the Goddess performs same-sex marriages. I wanna know why the gays are only allowed to be married in the most rustic places like Vermont. What’s there other than syrup and moose? Or Iowa? That’s nice if you need sheep.”
She was shocked that California, the most liberal state — and her home — passed Prop 8. With that, “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and other headlines, she wanted to return the favor to her gay fans that stood by her through even the lean years.
“I want to stand up for them for their rights and give them joy and fun,” she says. “They do the same for me. There is this great sense of fun and love in the community. It’s so much larger than life — like me!”
She hasn’t made plans to preside over nuptials in Dallas, but she is on the hunt. She’ll be recruiting her beefy burritos from the audience at the Saturday celebration. After collecting her hunky entourage, she’ll take on the likes of BP, Lindsay Lohan and border patrol.
“We’ve been talking for years about keeping out illegals — they should send those bitches back to England! That oil is so nasty,” she says. “What’s the point of that ankle SCRAM on Lohan? She just uses it to hold her liquor. Do not let her out in the open.”
Tenuta will be happy to know that Lohan is behind bars. But two celebrities she’s curious about are Dallas residents. When she found out the Bushes lived in Big D, she was fascinated.
You could almost hear the jokes working themselves out. Tenuta took particular interest in the Facebook page campaigning for Laura Bush to be part of this year’s Pride parade after she came out in support of same-sex marriage.
“No kidding! I have to give her a lot of credit,” she says. “Laura Bush, the ex-First Lady. I’d hope she’d stop by, but she strikes me more as going to a Julie Andrews concert. She should do the parade but she’d certainly do it without George Bush. We hate that pig.”
Hmm — that can’t be Judyo orthodoxy.
“Well, the religion is mostly there to forget about your problems by thinking about mine for a change.”
Sounds like religion we could get behind.
COH Celebration continues with Sam Harris
Don’t underestimate the church’s ability to throw a party. While Judy Tenuta headlines Cathedral of Hope’s Saturday celebration, the festivities don’t end there. The night will also include dancing, live music, cocktails and food.
Sunday worship service won’t be anything to balk at, either. Accompanying the Rev. Jo Hudson’s sermon will be members of the Turtle Creek Chorale, Resounding Harmony, the Women’s Chorus of Dallas and special guest Sam Harris, pictured.
Yes, that Sam Harris. Winning the first Star Search in 1983 during the show’s first season, Harris has grown from reality show celeb to a major player in music, television and stage. (Think of him as the Adam Lambert of the ’80s.) His signature song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” is a favorite, but Harris has continued recording — his last album came was released in 2008. He’s also developing both a television show and a play about Al Jolson that’s not The Jazz Singer.
“This is so near and dear to my heart, but this is a psychological investigation of this incredibly powerful entertainer,” Harris says. “He was this megalomaniac, but also incredibly giving.”
Harris relates to that last virtue, mostly because he’s now a family man. He married his partner Danny Jacobsen in November 2008, months after adopting their son Cooper Atticus Harris-Jacobson, now 2. The family life hasn’t necessarily slowed Harris down, but it is a juggling act.
“When you have a kid, the day starts out at 100 miles per hour,” he says. “It is a bit of juggling but it’s such a huge blessing and my family is the core of my reason.”
Harris will be performing two songs at both worship services at the Meyerson, but he’ll also sit in during each as a guest. The church’s philosophies coincide with his own and he hopes he’s a good fit for the congregation.
“It’s a place of action and calls us to be our best selves,” he says. “Those are elements I try to make of my life. I recognize when I’m most fulfilled is that when I’m of service. The whole point is human connection; that’s why were here — to connect to find similarities and leave it better than when we found it.”
He should feel reassured he’s the perfect fit for the celebration.
Cathedral of Hope 40th Anniversary Worship at the Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. 9 and 11 a.m. Free. CathedralofHope.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 23, 2010.