G Force

Stand-up with an indie feel

(Stef Willen)
By Anna Marden
Globe Correspondent / August 13, 2011

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Q. You’re signed to an indie music label. How does it work being a comedian signed to a record label?

A. Secretly Canadian had never signed a comedian before, but one of their singers, this guy Jens Lekman, who’s a fan of my stand-up, had asked me if I wanted to go on tour with him a few years ago. So I did. I got to know the record label pretty well and they got to know my stand-up. They offered me a record deal. And I had been offered record deals with different comedy labels, but those didn’t appeal to me in the past. I just didn’t think that I would get as much attention, with all the comedians on a comedy label. I really liked these guys at Secretly Canadian and what they told me they’d do for me. I felt like being on an indie-rock label would help me stand out a bit.

Q. What are your favorite and least favorite experiences with doing a stand-up comedy performance?

A. My least favorite show was in Kilkenny, Ireland, maybe a decade ago. I got heckled through the entire performance. Not in, like, a fun heckling way, but they were just ruthlessly mean to me and it was pretty horrifying. But it ended up being one of those shows, and I hate to sound cliche, but it made me a stronger comedian, and it made me realize that no one thing is gonna make or break me. So I’m actually glad that it happened, because I felt so much stronger after that. And nothing that bad has ever happened again, so I think I had a very unusual experience. As far as my favorite experience goes, I have those so regularly that it’s ridiculous. I get on stage probably once a week and have one of the most fun shows I’ve ever had. I hate to be that generic, but it is true.

Q. Do you have any funny stories about Boston? Has anything crazy ever happened to you here?

A. I haven’t been in town long enough for anything too crazy to happen. This isn’t even crazy, but it’s the craziest thing that’s happened in Boston and it was years ago: My cellphone broke while I was in Boston, and then it only worked on speakerphone, so I looked like an idiot walking around your beautiful city, blabbing on speakerphone everywhere I went.

Q. Is your act planned out in advance or do you do a lot of improv?

A. It’s both. Whenever I perform, I usually try to do a mix of brand-new stuff and then stuff you’ll hear on the CD. I would say that 20 to 25 percent of my show is improv. So it’s nice for me, because I never have the same show. It’s always different.

Q. You were on “The Sarah Silverman Program.’’ What was it like working with her and being on TV?

A. Well, Sarah’s one of my closest friends. She created a really nice work environment. I always felt lucky that my first real experience on a TV show was with Sarah and friends, because it can be a little intimidating and nerve-racking. She made it very comfortable and easy for me.

Q. What else are you working on right now? Anything coming up after your comedy tour?

A. On a weekly basis, I have a podcast called “Professor Blastoff’’ that I host with two comedian friends of mine. We talk about science and math and philosophy, theology, metaphysical-type stuff, and try and make it interesting and funny. And then I have a pilot that Sarah Silverman executive-produced, and we’re waiting to see if that’s gonna get picked up to go to series on television. I have another TV project that I’m developing with one of the writers and producers of “The Hangover 2’’ and some other huge movie people. So, I have a few things in the works, but nothing for sure.

Interview has been edited and condensed. Anna Marden can be reached at

Tig Notaro
Notaro is touring the US to promote her new album, “Good One,’’ a recording of her stand-up routine released by Secretly Canadian, an indie-rock label. Notaro played a recurring role on “The Sarah Silverman Program,’’ appeared on NBC’s “Community,’’ and records a weekly podcast called “Professor Blastoff.’’
As part of Anderson Comedy Presents: The Gas, Notaro performs at Great Scott (1222 Commonwealth Ave., Allston) on Friday, 7 p.m. Cover: $12, $10 in advance.