Tig Notaro, breast cancer survivor, does a topless comedy set


Tig Notaro performed at New York's Town Hall last night. She, like me, had breast cancer. She chose not to have reconstructive surgery.

She wore a gray sports jacket, jeans, and a pink button-down shirt. She unbuttoned her jacket. Someone in the back of the house shouted "Whooo!." A catcall. Then Tig did something amazing.

From the New Yorker:

Notaro, with one arm still in her jacket, looked surprised. "Did you not hear the story I was just telling?" she asked. She paused, letting a small wave of laughter roll over the crowd. (Anaheed Alani, of Rookie magazine, once wrote that Notaro "uses long pauses… better than probably any other comedian in the world.")

"You know, it's funny," Notaro continued. "I was going to do this show with my shirt off, anyway. I'm about one more 'Whooo' away from going topless." It was a joke, obviously. But, predictably, several whoops emerged from the crowd. Notaro made an instant calculation. Then she ripped her shirt open, Superman-like, and she was topless.

Long pause. She is a deadpan comedian of the driest vintage, and her face remained stolid. The patches of the audience that were stunned into silence alternated with the patches that were seized by deep, hoarse laughter, resulting in weird patterns of wave interference. Notaro is thin. She stood with her shoulders slightly hunched, her ribs visible, her lack of breasts visible, her surgery scars visible. "Naked onstage" is a classic premise for an anxiety dream, and the moment felt surreal. So it's true that she doesn't wear a bra. Is this being filmed? Is this actually happening?

Man. I am so sorry I wasn't there to witness this. Here's coverage in the New York Times.