Director: Tig Notaro
Synopsis: Tig is a documentary about and by comedian Tig Notaro, tracking her from the recording over her now-famous stand-up set regarding her breast cancer diagnosis, but more than that it is about the unique experiences given birth by close encounters with that final earthly frontier: death.
Overview: Tig never steps lightly around the topic at hand, though each and every frame is imbued with the director’s tender humor, compassion, and remorse gleaned from a life lived, whether it was done so well or not of an altogether irrelevant importance. Notaro is a funny comedian, but to label her merely as such would be disingenuous, as her ability to capture the attention of her viewer, on both the stage and the screen, is something not to be dismissed as a mere parlor trick.
In Tig, the comedian of the film’s objectively signified title proves herself to be a human being worthy of making the discovery of her acquaintance via her chosen public profession, which is the real lesson that the film’s director wishes to imbue to the audience, and finds out for herself in the making of her own life story throughout. More than a pop-cultural artifact on coping with cancer and engaging in an alternative lifestyle, Notaro, at least as she appears in this film, is aiming towards an embrace of self-identity that has never been easy for the middle-aged, high school drop out, her stage presence immediately open to caricature and lampoon on a superficial level that is deflated by her innate independence of spirit and voice.
Notaro in real life and on film is jarringly at odds with her immediate physical presence and bearing. At first glance, hers’ is a story that is immediately knowable and acknowledged via her outwardly manifested non-conformity. But that’s not all there is to her. Cutting a trim figure with a boyish haircut, Notaro looks like someone you might already know, but find upon closer examination that you have no personal understanding of. Throughout the documentary’s narrative, Notaro appears determined to deconstruct herself not only for the sake of informing her audience on the true nature of her being, but to find herself by proxy.
By the end of the Netflix produced original documentary feature, viewers have seen Notaro inside and out, and hopefully come out the better for it, as the comedian so clearly has herself. At the beginning of the film, when Notaro is just starting on the long road to recovery after an initial diagnosis, and after undergoing a double mastectomy and coming to terms with the death of her mother, you see someone utterly unlike the warm, open-hearted story teller who takes the stage at Largo yet again at film’s end. In Tig, the film’s subject is opened up to interpretation on terms of the objective narrative value of the comedian’s personally told story, as well as the more subjective interior struggle suggested in brief frames and glimpses from Notaro’s search for happiness and fulfillment in her career as a stand-up performer and a hopeful mother-to-be. There have been documentaries in the past that have attempted much the same in their approach towards intimacy with their subject, and Tig is one of the very best of them.