"The comedian in me," she explained, thought a shirtless performance was a good way to make a statement about her cancer journey
Tig Notaro has gone through some serious ordeals in her life — including nearly dying of a C-diff infection in 2012, losing her mother to a fall and being diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer all within a year.
But the actress, author and stand-up comedian said she still can't help but find the funny in everything, even after undergoing a double mastectomy at the time.
“After I had a double mastectomy, the comedian in me kept hearing a voice in my head, ‘You should do a show topless, you should do a show topless.’ And I was like, ‘I can’t do a show topless!’ ” Notaro said during a talk with Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider at End Well 2023: It’s About Time in Los Angeles.
End Well's annual symposium featured over 25 voices — including Notaro, Dr. Ungerleider as well as host and actress Yvette Nicole Brown — as they "championed pioneering minds and offered them a platform to take their ideas to the next level with fresh talks or unexpected conversations," a release for the event said.
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Notaro added that idea "kept popping up to the point where I was distracted every time I was performing. I'd be like, 'I should take this shirt off.' "
The Morning Show star, 52, said she was worried that it would seem like she was just "trying to milk something — so to speak — like way beyond the fact" that she had her surgery. But then she thought, "No, this is relevant even way down the road."
She then revealed that she did in fact do a show topless. But she didn't say anything to the audience about her scars — she just took her shirt off and continued the act. “In the middle of the show, I took my shirt off and didn’t acknowledge it," she shared.
"I thought, ‘Oh that’s what’s funny about it is to talk about airplane travel, which is the least respected comedy topic within comedian conversations. And I thought, 'That’ll be great. I'll do hacky material with my shirt off and reveal my mastectomy scars and won't acknowledge it. And that way I could make a statement but make it funny, hopefully,' " Notaro continued.
She also shared that when she went offstage, she was greeted by comedian Bo Burnham, who said he totally respected the move. "This was inspiring as a person, this is your body and you're just out there with your shirt off doing comedy," she recalled him saying.
She added, "I didn't even consider a man would [be inspired.]"
Notaro then admitted that she "wasn't comfortable for a while after my surgery." But then she came to think about it differently. "Then I realized my scars just represent that my body healed," she concluded.
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