Tig Notaro Takes Raw Comedy to the Next Level at Town Hall

Comedian Tig Notaro became a household name when, in 2012, she walked on stage at the Largo and answered the applause with, "Thank you, thanks, I have cancer. Thank you, I have cancer. Really, thank you." She went on to tell the audience about being diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer the same year her mother died unexpectedly. Louis CK called it "a truly great, masterful standup set," and he helped convince Notaro to release it as an album. "Tig Notaro Live" reached #1 on Billboard's 'Top Comedy Albums' chart, and Notaro was nominated for a Grammy. She's an expert at long pauses and dry wit, raw confessions where the humor comes as a surprise.

On Thursday, when Notaro performed at New York's Town Hall as part of her Boyish Girl Interrupted standup tour, she took her set to the next level. Notaro--who underwent a double masectomy in 2012, and chose not to have reconstructive surgery--performed the second half of her show topless. Urged on by the audience's shouts of "woo!" she ripped off her shirt, superman style. According to The New Yorker, Notaro was typically deadpan about it all:

After a few seconds, she arched her eyebrows in a schoolmarmish way, as if to say, Are we ready to go on? She performed the rest of her set, another twenty minutes or so, without covering up. She alluded to it once or twice—"You're thinking, 'When's she gonna . . . ?' She's not gonna"—but mostly she stuck to her jokes, about "Yellow Submarine" and the phrase "That's what she said." She finished her set and received a standing ovation (which, in fairness, she had explicitly requested), and then she buttoned up her shirt, jumped down from the lip of the stage, and ran through the house toward the lobby.

In her MAKERS video, Notaro says "With comedy, we shouldn't create boundaries...as a person or as a comedian, you should do what feels right." She's never been afraid of making an audience uncomfortable, and her set at Town Hall was a poignant toast to baring it all--the ultimate show of wry, raw comedy.

Photo via Getty