In August, 41-year-old Notaro reduced the Largo comedy club in Los Angeles to tears and laughter with her heartfelt set, performed on the day she received her diagnosis.
It began: ‘Tragedy plus time equals comedy. But I don’t have the benefit of time. So I’m just going to tell you the tragedy and know that everything is going to be okay.’
Now her friend CK – who was in the room that night – is offering an audio recording of the show as a $5 to his vast army of online fans.
In a message to his mailing list, he recalled the night. ‘I hadn't seen Tig in about a year and I said how are you? She replied, "well I found out today that I have cancer in both breasts and that it has likely spread to my lymph nodes. My doctor says it looks real bad. "
‘She wasn't kidding. I said "Uh. Jesus. Tig. Well. Do you... Have your family... Helping?". She said "Well my mom was with me but a few weeks ago she fell down, hit her head and she died". She still wasn't kidding.
‘Now, I'm pretty stupid to begin with, and I sure didn't know what to say now. I opened my mouth and this came out. “Jeez, Tig. I. Really value you. Highly." She said, "I value you highly too, Louie.
‘Then she held up a wad of notepaper in her hand and said "I'm gonna talk about all of it on stage now. It's probably going to be a mess". I said "wow". And with that, she went on stage.
‘I stood in the wings behind a leg of curtain, about eight feet from her, and watched her tell a stunned audience: "Hi. I have cancer. Just found out today. I'm going to die soon.” What followed was one of the greatest stand-up performances I ever saw. I can't really describe it but I was crying and laughing and listening like never in my life.
‘Here was this small woman standing alone against death and simply reporting where her mind had been and what had happened and employing her gorgeously acute stand-up voice to her own death.
The show was an amazing example of what comedy can be. A way to visit your worst fears and laugh at them. Tig took us to a scary place and made us laugh there. Not by distracting us from the terror but by looking right at it and just turning to us and saying "Wow. Right?". She proved that everything is funny. And has to be. And she could only do this by giving us her own death as an example. So generous.’
The club had recorded the set, which is what CK is releasing. He is keeping $1 of the $5, with the rest going to Notaro, who will give some of her share to cancer research.
Notaro has since undergone a double mastectomy and is said to have an excellent chance of survival.
Click here to download the show.