Tig Notaro’s ‘I’m Just A Person’ runs very close to the bone, says Steve Boylan
Comedienne Tig Notaro has written a book that’s not particularly funny. Not a good start, you might think, but the thing is… it’s not really supposed to be that funny. Notaro didn’t have much to laugh about for a long time. That she has emerged with a sense of humour from the early part of the decade is a wonder. That she emerged in rude health is nothing short of miraculous.
In March 2012, while filming a movie, Notaro fell ill. She was diagnosed with Clostridium difficile (C diff), a debilitating bacterial infection of the large intestine that had previously gone undiagnosed by her doctors. She lost a huge amount of weight, could barely keep her eyes open with exhaustion, and was eventually hospitalised. She finally recovered after undergoing treatment, and was discharged from hospital in time for her 41st birthday.
Two days later, she missed a call from her mother wishing her a happy birthday. Shortly afterwards, she received another call from her stepfather telling her that her mother had fallen, hit her head, and wasn’t going to make it. Notaro made the long journey to Texas to say goodbye and turn off the life support machine. Little did she know, the universe had even more in store for her; that July she was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer.
I’m Just a Person is not only a journey through those extraordinary months in 2012 which culminated in Notaro having a double mastectomy, it’s also a tale of a persevering through relentless adversity, looking for positives when there are only negatives, and building oneself up after being repeatedly knocked down.
Nothing and nobody gets away easily; she wryly examines her early years, her burgeoning career, and her family life – her parents, particularly, loom large. She deeply loved and admired her mother, Susie, but pulls no punches about her parenting style. She was the type of parent other children think is cool, when her own kids really just need decent meals and someone to help with homework from time to time. (‘Drinking with friends by the pool was my mother’s 9 to 5 job, and she took it very seriously.’) It’s all fun and games, it seems, until someone forgets to collect the kids from soccer practice.
Keep reading to find out about Tig’s relationship with her stepfather, her album, documentary and TV show.