Queer comedian Tig Notaro has an impressive lesbian pedigree away from her stand-up career. She’s filmed scenes for the recent biopic on grrl group the Runaways, guest starred in episodes of The Sarah Silverman Program as the one woman alluring enough to turn Silverman gay, and before her stage and screen appearances, she worked as an assistant on Xena: Warrior Princess.
Before her trip Down Under to perform at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Notaro filled the Star Observer in on some of her brushes with queer icons — starting with her (ultimately unseen) role in The Runaways, playing Joan Jett’s mother.
“It was a totally new experience for me to shoot a dramatic movie. Joan was there with her actual mother to watch all our takes,” she recalled. “Unfortunately I was ultimately cut out of the movie. It was a bummer for a couple of days, but then I remembered I’m a comedian who never even wanted to get into acting. I was told that because the movie was actually about Cherie Currie, the backstory on Joan wasn’t crucial, so they got rid of it.
“I’m totally open to the fact that they might have cut me because I was horrible, but we may never know.”
Then there was her appearance on friend Sarah Silverman’s show, where her Sapphic appeal so rattled the otherwise-heterosexual Silverman that she found herself inadvertently referring to the ‘TV’ as ‘Tig’s Vagina’, before transforming herself into a mullet-styled, flannel-clad lesbian folk singer to better appeal to her same-sex crush.
“[It was] so flattering that she wrote that script,” Notaro said. “Sarah is one of my closest friends and working with her in any capacity is dreamy to me — in TV, live shows, whatever.”
As for her time as a somewhat hapless assistant on Xena, Notaro said she formed a close bond with the woman who played the dykonic superhero herself, Lucy Lawless.
“Lucy is great — always so supportive. She would go see me do comedy when I was just starting out at little shows and open mics. She and I are still good friends and see each other whenever she’s in the States and we both have time. Which is basically never, so I guess I should take all that back.”
No longer relegated to support roles, Notaro recently filmed a pilot for her own talk show with the Logo Network, populating the first episode with some of her high-profile friends.
“It was with cast members from Mad Men and we had such an amazing blast shooting it. We get confirmation if it’ll air either way in the next four months.
“Even if it doesn’t air, I still feel like an oddly lucky person.”
info: Tig Notaro plays the Supper Room, Melbourne Town Hall, April 19-24. Visit www.comedyfestival.com.au