TIG screened as part of the Documentary Premieres programme at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. For additional screen times, head here.
I went into Tig not knowing all that much about comedian and all-around Most Amazing Person Ever Tig Notaro. I mean, of course I’ve heard of The Set. (I think we’ve all heard of it at this point. And if you somehow haven’t, stop right there buddy and find it on the internet. Did you do it? I’ll know if you’re lying … okay.)
So I went into this documentary not fully realizing that right before she was diagnosed with breast cancer, her mother died unexpectedly. And that right before that she was hospitalized and almost died. Cancer is bad enough, but cheese and crackers, what a hand to be dealt. Friends and filmmakers Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York were there from pretty much the beginning and began to capture it all. And when I say “all,” I really mean it. They’re there for Tig mourning the loss of her mother, trying to get her life and career back on track, falling in love, wanting to start a family, and dealing with the fear and insecurity of coming back after her fame-making performance. Because, you know, you can’t really walk out on stage a second time and open with, “Hello, I have cancer. How are you?”
Along with all of the amazing and intimate footage, the filmmakers interviewed many of Tig’s close friends. Combined with frank and poignant thoughts from Tig, the entire documentary takes shape in an incredibly real and vulnerable way. I hate saying “real,” because we’re all real, but Tig is Real with a capital “R.” Her honesty and to-the-pointedness is probably what makes me (and everyone else) love her stand-up and that outlook and personality carry over to the documentary as well. As the kids say, Tig keeps it real. There is never a moment where anything feels forced or contrived. We see her at her highest and at some of her lowest throughout this doc. We get a glimpse at her brilliant comedic process as she prepares for her big comeback show. She made me laugh and cry in the same breath. Damn, what a woman.
Goolsby and York filmed for almost two years and then brought on screenwriter Jennier Arnold to help sort through the footage and put it together so it would do these few years of Tig’s life justice. I don’t even want to think about how hard it was to find the right path for the doc but they did an amazing job. The flow and editing are superb. The doc opens with Tig’s infamous “cancer set” and that becomes the backbone of the story, helping to create context for everything that happened afterward. It’s shot simply, without any fuss or flair, but it doesn’t really need anything special, in my opinion. This should be all about Tig, not interesting camera angles. I mean, it is called Tig after all.
Also, I had no idea that Tig and her partner, Stephanie Allynne (who is freakin’ hilarious, by the way) met on the set of In A World, where they played sort-of love interests. All together now: y’awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.
Siân Melton is covering Sundance for us live from Park City, Utah. Read about her other work, including her Toronto-based film series The MUFF Society, below.