Tampa Bay Times Review

When he comes to Tampa Bay, Doug Stanhope performs at Crowbar. Neil Hamburger has performed at the Emerald. On Jan. 20, Doug Benson is performing at Backbooth in Orlando.

And on Wednesday night, dozens of alt-comedy fans and podcast geeks turned out on a school night to see Tig Notaro at New World Brewery in Ybor City.

Why New World? Why not? Unlike the Improv, where unconventional comics like Maria Bamford sometimes receive a tough reception, an indie-rock bar is a good place for a not-quite-mainstream comic to connect directly with his or her fans. That was the philosophy behind Patton Oswalt’s Comedians of Comedy, which featured Bamford, Zach Galifianakis and Brian Posehn.

Although Tig Notaro seems poised for a breakout in 2011. She’s not a young comic, but she’s been getting more and more exposure recently on shows like The Benson Interruption, Community and The Sarah Silverman Program, not to mention some of the best comedy podcasts around: Comedy Death Ray, Doug Loves Movies, WTF with Marc Maron.

So those hipsters who came out weren’t just there to see random off-brand Komedy. They were there specifically to see Tig Notaro. When you’re trying to create a new comedy room, that’s a big difference.

This review will be a brief one, and won’t include any major spoilers about Notaro’s act. This is because:

1. You really need to see her for yourself the next time she comes back to town, and I don’t want to step on her jokes.

2. I wasn’t taking notes. Oops.

But I can share a few highlights. Notaro is a seasoned pro at working small spaces — she’s done stand-up in garages and living rooms — and so working the intimate New World patio wasn’t a stretch for her. A few folks got the urge to start shouting things toward the end of her set, and Notaro could hear all of it — we all could. But she used her improv skills, intense dry wit and charm to disarm any potential hecklers.

But the truth is, the bearded hipsters in the crowd weren’t really heckling her. They just seemed to want to be part of her set in some way. There was a lot of laughter, but no applause breaks — the crowd was too cool, and the room seemed too small, for that. Toward the end, Notaro didn’t even need a mic. (And no one shouted “Good one!”, which, depending on how you feel about the Good One Robot, was either a huge relief or a huge disappointment.)

Notaro’s impression of a showering baby was fantastic. She talked about getting into an accident on Eighth Avenue, pulling her rental car up onto the curb between the street and the trolley tracks. And she told The Taylor Dayne Story, which, even if you’ve heard it before, is worth hearing again in person.

The real winner here was New World Brewery. The smallish stage stood about a foot off the patio, with tables and chairs set up in front, turning it into a reasonable facsimile of a comedy club. And if you like beer with your comedy, you’re not going to find a better selection than you will here.

On Feb. 26, THX MGMT, which put on this show, is bringing Neil Hamburger to New World. It would be great if this continues — once a month, the bar could become Tampa Bay’s alt-comedy room of record. It’s obviously way too small to host artists like Oswalt or Galifianakis, but Garfunkel and Oates? Reggie Watts? Why not?

– Jay Cridlin, tbt*