Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hot Docs 2015 Film Review -TIG

Tig Notaro was one person in a sea of working comics in Los Angeles. The Texas native had her favourite stages to play knowing the scene well with over 18 years piled up in the game. But after a series of personal tragedy's over a short period of time starting with a diagnosis of C. diff (Clostridium Diffcile) meaning she could not eat properly, followed by the death of her mother then acquiring breast cancer leading to a double mastectomy. Notaro decided spontaneously to speak about these dark times during an unfilmed set at The Largo comedy club. Notaro's opening line Good evening I have cancer tipped of a legendary set that instantly went viral.

Directors Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York whose backgrounds are in reality television open the film with scenes from back stage of her one year anniversary show at The Largo. Next the narrative shifts back to the late 90's to view some of Notaro's early work. The story leaps ahead again to the audio of the famous Largo set followed by social media reaction the following day. The social media explosion lead to a best selling album entitled Live, appearances on late night talk shows, a book deal then more demands for appearances. Notaro had jumped several levels in her profession but now needed new material and did not have anything to present to her growing audience.

The camera is always present as Tig continues to have a series of highs and lows during the next 12 months of filming.  The film employees home movies and archival footage spliced with the odd reenactment to present the material. We see Notaro's building relationship with actress Stephanie Allynne who Tig met on set of the TV series In a Word at the time when she contracted C.diff. She also decides to pursue freezing her eggs and surrogate parenthood despite the danger that the process of reintroducing female hormones to her body could lead to the return of her cancer.

The best part of the piece is the first hand view of Tig as she works on her craft. The directors focus in on one joke from it initial inkling, to working on the rhythm out loud and amongst peers, to taking it initial to the stage to a fine tuned joke at the one year anniversary Largo show.

Tig Notaro's strong personality is clearly on display in the documentary. She faces every event that comes her way openly and honestly. Her dark sense of humour and willingness to use her real life experiences are always at the forefront of her comedy.  The production gives a great look at a working comic as she experiences the ebb and flow of life. This is a film that I can recommend.

*** Out of Four.

TIG | Kristina Goolsby / Ashley York | U.S.A.  | 2015 | 95 minutes.

Tags: Comic, Cancer, C diff , The Largo, Artificial Insemination, Dark Humour, Los Angeles, Texas.

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