21 Savage may have been scared of a little snow, but Tig Notaro certainly wasn’t. On Friday, Nov. 16, the Emmy-nominated comedian performed for a cold yet cheerful crowd in Lecture Hall 1.
The Student Association Programming Board (SAPB) brought the comedian to Binghamton University as the second stand-up act for the fall semester. Notaro has been an active comedian since 2011 when she released her debut stand-up album, “Good One.” A year later, Notaro was diagnosed with cancer in both of her breasts, leading her to get a double mastectomy with no reconstructive surgery. Her health problems have been used as material in her work many times, playing off her deadpan comedic style and leading to her 2016 Emmy-nominated special, “Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted.”
Jillian Pizzuto, comedy chair of SAPB and a junior majoring in Spanish, organized the event and noted Notaro’s popularity with students.
“When I received the offer for [Notaro], I realized this was a once-in-a-lifetime offer to get such an incredibly huge name for Binghamton at a price we were able to afford,” Pizzuto said. “[Notaro] has been in the comedy game for so long — she’s so established and extremely successful, so having her perform at BU was truly a dream come true for a lot of people.”
The opener for the show was Jeshua Dejesse, an e-board member of Bing Stand-Up and a senior majoring in biology. His set, similar to Notaro’s style, played upon tragedies in his life.
“[Notaro] has always inspired me and shown me that there are many ways to do new, creative and fun things with comedy,” Dejesse said. “Seeing her live, I was extremely impressed by her timing and what a great performer she is. She’s a master at riffing, going with the flow and crowd work.”
Notaro started off her show by commenting on the peculiarity of the Lecture Hall 1 setting and interacting with students in the crowd. One unidentified student sitting near the front of the hall told her that he took an archeology class in the room, but his friend sitting next to him quickly informed Notaro that he was lying and actually took anthropology.
“You take anthropology, which includes archaeology?” Notaro said in response. “But you decided to tell me you take archeology? How dare you lie to me in front of everyone in a room I’m clearly not comfortable in.”
Madeleine MacLean, a freshman majoring in political science, said she enjoyed Notaro’s interaction with the students.
“I thought she really showed her wit in how she interacted with the audience and incorporated the setting into her comedy,” MacLean said.
Consistent with her style, Notaro also brought up recent health scares, including one that just happened this week when she suffered from internal bleeding while at home. After the premiere of “Instant Family,” she was going to sleep and got a sudden stomachache. Her wife ended up calling 911 and two “very muscle-bound” EMTs came to her house. The EMTs picked her up out of bed while she was in her pajamas and carried her down the stairs.
“I have never felt more straight in my life. I felt like this little, dainty little lady being carried down the stairs by this Prince Charming guy,” Notaro said. “I was bleeding internally, but whatever. It’s no big deal. I got out of the hospital Wednesday and I’m here Friday. If that doesn’t impress you, I don’t know how to impress a group of people who find this to be a good excuse for a comedy show. I was hemorrhaging to death, but I got that wrapped up and then I was like, ‘I have to get out to New York to this weird room where there’s a tiny phone at the very bottom of the desk with a podium next to the desk with three Jumbotron screens when anyone in the back of the room, which isn’t even that far away, can see something much smaller.’”
Notaro also went on to talk about how she once had to get her wisdom teeth surgically removed and drove herself back home. The audience gasped at every part of the story, which prompted Notaro to make a joke about it, too.
“Here comes a hospital story, guys,” she said. “I can see the headline already: ‘Half of the half-empty theater was taken to the hospital when they heard of yet another hospital visit.’”
The highlight, however, was at the end, when Notaro talked about attending Ellen Degeneres’ 60th birthday party. Singer Adele was in attendance as well, but did not perform. In response, Notaro went on stage, asked a sound person to play Adele’s song “Hello,” and sang along to it while pressing random keys on the piano. While reenacting this scene, Notaro once again commented on the obscurity of Lecture Hall 1 and keyboard she was provided for the skit.
“I am in a major motion picture and this is the piano that was provided for me?” she said. “Sure, I don’t know how to play, but I could have been given a better keyboard. Does the school know that we’re using this room? It doesn’t feel like they do.”
Daniel Morales, a freshman majoring in electrical engineering, attended the show with friends.
“I never heard of her so I thought she would be a mediocre comedian, but I ended up really enjoying it, especially when she was doing impressions,” Morales said.
While the freezing Binghamton weather has finally commenced, the show seemed to warm up Lecture Hall 1 with laughter.