She Wired

The Story Behind Tig Notaro’s Groundbreaking Cancer Standup Set

Tig Notaro was ready to spill about her difficult year for a 30 minute set at the Largo Theater in Los Angeles in August. The set was intended for an episode of This American Life, after host Ira Glass was so impressed with her initial performance on the show back in May.

However, the day before the show, Notaro then found out that she had stage two breast cancer, and that it was aggressive. She decided to ditch her normal routine and pour her heart out to 300 audience members, she told Entertainment Weekly. Notaro sent a recording of the set to Glass that evening, with the recording intended for an episode of This American Life. She had no idea that the next morning, hoards of fans, colleagues and complete strangers would reach out to her with words of support.
“I went to bed, and when I woke up, there were 10 million emails, ­messages, texts, book-deal offers,” she said. “I was like, ‘What in the hell is going on? How did everybody find out I have cancer?’ Obviously I knew the 300 people in that room would know, and I was very aware that word would get out, but I thought it would be a slow trickle.”
The set was one of the most lauded performances of her career, with praise from the likes of fellow comedians Louis C.K., and Bill Burr.