Fans of Tig Notaro are endlessly impressed with her dry, matter-of-fact, and effortless humor. She’s by no means an “in your face” comedian, but what she delivers is always dead-on. Notaro is a multi-talented entertainer – a stand-up comic, actress, author, radio personality, and Grammy Award nominee. She’s battled breast cancer, become a mother, and at 48, is proving “middle age” is perhaps her most meaningful milestone yet. While her Amazon comedy, One Mississippi was canceled (sigh) after two seasons, it’s still a must-find, binge-worthy comedy. It creatively covers life, death, romance (and lack thereof), and lots of other “real stuff,” with an often dysfunctional, but always fun delivery.
Naturally, giving away the main points of the plot ruins the show for those who’ve yet to see it, so getting into the nitty-gritty has “spoiler alert!” written all over it. Notaro would shake her head in her signature subtle, yet sarcastic manner of relaying disapproval, so sharing too much of the story would be unfair to her as well. Those two tremendous seasons on Amazon are all we get of Notaro’s specific way of telling her semi-autobiographical story of her trip back home after her mother’s death.
She plays “Tig” who heads to her hometown to stay with family. What is supposed to be a visit that is meant for the specific purpose of dealing with the aftermath of her mom’s passing, Tig stays at her step-dad’s house for far longer. She’s reluctantly living there with him, her socially-awkward brother and his overly-bubbly girlfriend and her child, and starts falling hard for her on-air radio station sound engineer, “Kate,” who just happens to be Notaro’s real-life spouse, Stephanie Allynne. All the while, she’s dealing with her breast cancer and its aftermath, childhood sexual abuse pain, her late mother’s deep secrets, and a less-than-welcoming community. You’re thinking, “This is a comedy?” Sure is, and it’s splendid.
Notaro isn’t one to delicately dance around uncomfortable topics or handle serious ones with silence. She is not doing anything for shock value, but she’s willing to lay it all on the table for the sake of telling a story that’s worth sharing. Her life may not be exactly like the One Mississippi script, but as the audience gets pulled in, we feel like we’re part of Notaro’s real world – the good, bad, highs, lows, and especially, the laughter…and lots of it.
If Notaro can see the humor in some of her darkest hours, who are we not to laugh right along? A smart comedian knows how to find that beautiful balance that makes storytelling – no matter the subject – something relatable, raw, and real.
Although there are just two seasons of the show and you’ll no doubt long for more, treat yourself to One Mississippi. “Silly” comedy is cute, but it is not enriching entertainment. Notaro will get you to think, open your mind, and perhaps find how the “faults” in your own family are actually kinda funny.