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After a two-year hiatus, South By Southwest, the mammoth music, film and interactive conference, has returned to Austin, Texas.
Over the past decade, the festival’s many highlights include Bruce Springsteen's brilliant keynote speech in 2012, followed by an epic concert at Austin City Limits. Also, Dave Grohl's Sound City Players entertaining performance in 2013 and Billie Eilish's much buzzed-about showcases in 2018.
Comic Tig Notaro's South By appearance in 2015 didn't rock the entertainment Richter scale like the aforementioned icons, but she and her film, "Knock Knock, It's Tig," which aired as a Showtime special, certainly had an impact.
"Knock Knock" features Notaro visiting fans around the country. A number of her funny friends, including humorists Nick Kroll, Jeff Garlin and Jon Dore, helped raise the entertainment quotient.
Notaro, 50, made the documentary after suffering through a Job-esque run. Notaro suffered through a breakup, the death of her mother and if that wasn't enough, she received horrible health news, which she somehow worked into her act.
"Hello. Good evening, hello. I have cancer," is how Notaro revealed to her fans during a Los Angeles gig that her life was in jeopardy. After having a double mastectomy, Notaro ripped off her shirt and performed topless during a performance at the New York Comedy Festival.
Few contemporary comics are as raw, provocative and uncompromising as Notaro.
"I do things for a reason," Notaro said. "I wanted people to talk about cancer because it's a big deal.“
During her documentary, she and Dore visited a stonemason, who made a gravestone for Notaro.
"Either you're going to laugh or cry and I prefer to laugh," Notaro said.
When Notaro performs twice Friday, March 18, 2022, at Iowa City’s Englert Theatre, expect an unsparing and amusing set.
There’s no one quite like Notaro. She’s the comedic version of Tom Petty, saying so much with so few words. She understands that brevity is one key to being humorous.
Few comics are as courageous as Notaro, who jokes about her sexuality and has cracked wise about her health. She uses she/her pronouns on her website, but on Twitter, declared: “My pronouns are, ‘Sir, please calm down.’ ”
The quick-witted Notaro also offered this comeback to a man who called her "Sir" on the street: "Usually I have a sense of humor about that," she said. "But I just got diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts. That's how much I'm not a man, not today, not a man."
No wonder Notaro became a favorite of such comics as Sarah Silverman, Louis C.K. and "This American Life" host Ira Glass.
"Some amazing people that I respect think I'm funny," Notaro said.
The deadpan stand-up has accomplished a great deal since her world was rocked by her diagnosis. Notaro has earned three Grammy nominations, her special, "Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted," was nominated for an Emmy and she and her wife, actress Stephanie Allynne, have twin boys. Notaro also appears in the zombie film, "Army of the Dead."
Notaro clearly had much to live for and has made the most out of her life since her world was shaken.
"Not many people have had as much bad luck as I have," Notaro said. "But not many people have had as much good luck, either."
But you have to make your luck and Notaro has earned everything she has achieved. It's been an uphill battle for the Jackson, Miss., native who grew up in Houston. Carving her niche in comedy hasn’t been easy, but that was nothing compared to battling cancer.
"I can't tell you how much I respect and admire Tig," Dore said. "She's so brave, unique and most of all, hilarious."