Tig Notaro is so closely tied to her brand of twisted, personal humor that it can be easy to forget that she’s one of the many multi-hyphens taking over Hollywood. the Together together actor is a comedian, published author, podcaster, talk show host, TV series creator and screenwriter and, as of this month, a newly created action star. Zack Snyder cast Notaro as dry-minded helicopter pilot Marianne Peters in her return to the zombie genre, Army of the dead. the And Mississippi Creator replaced Chris D’Elia, who was charged in June 2020 with sexually harass several underage women. The covers required more than the usual technical magic, but the results are worth it. Notaro is effortlessly cool and charming as part of Scott Ward’s (Dave Bautista) robbery in zombie infested Las Vegas.
Ahead of the Army of the dead premieres on Netflix on May 21 The AV club talked to Notaro about acting in front of a green screen, his knowledge of pop culture, his signature stand-up style and, naturally, what it’s like to be an idol at 50.
The AV Club: Your character in the movie, Peters, was one of the most discussed elements of this movie since the trailer came out, and not just because of the unusual process you went through to film it. Have you seen the movie? What did you think of the finished product?
Tig Notaro: Yeah, I saw the finished product. In fact, I saw the movie before I got there. I saw it to give me an idea of what the mood was like in the movie so I could just think of my delivery with things in certain scenes. So, yes, I was sold on the film immediately. I think they did a great job.
AVC: You have a varied career: you’re a comedian who has acted in movies and TV shows, and you’ve created and starred in your own TV show. You are also an author and a podcaster which was the subject of a documentary. How does it feel to see people seeing this as some kind of escape moment when you’ve been there for a while?
TN: I feel like in careers you have your different moments where it seems like there are so many different little moments. Even when I was doing standing and open mics, I wanted to throw myself into this moment as a moment of escape. You know what I mean? From the TV it was like ‘Oh’. It’s just a different way of looking at it. I don’t really know – I can’t imagine my life is going to change so much now, because I to have had all those little moments of breaking up or breaking up.
AVC: You are involved in so many different types of pop culture. But with a show like Under a rock, where you interview actors you don’t know, you realize how limited your knowledge of pop culture is. Do you plan to do more of the show, or are you secretly gorging yourself on all kinds of TV shows and movies to boost your knowledge?
TN: [Laughs.] No, I ain’t spoiling anything in secret and I’d like to do more Under a Rockk. In fact, I heard from our executive producer last night that there are discussions to pick up on this with the pandemic hopefully coming to an end or becoming more under control. So, yeah, I would love to do more of this show. It’s funny because besides trying to figure out who the celebrities are, what amuses me so much about the show is that people are so outraged where they’re like, ‘How don’t you know. who is this person?” My feeling is that there are people who are known to me. I just have the ones I don’t know.
I follow all types of music, but I follow country music closely. So I bet I could recognize so many classic and new country singers that most people couldn’t recognize, and I could be the one that says, “How don’t you know who this is ?! The great thing about the show is whoever my guest is, the format of the show actually allows for some really great and fun authentic conversations with the guest. It boils down to five to seven minute episodes online, but we end up recording 30 to 45 minutes of conversation. Because I don’t know who this person is, I really talk to them and try to figure out who they are. So it’s not a typical talk show where it’s like, “So I heard you do a lot of pranks on set. Tell me about it. You know?
AVC: Have you ever met someone after interviewing them and always struggled to place their face?
TN: No, I don’t think I met anyone, but maybe I forgot. But I think I would remember it for sure.
AVC: As an artist you get used to being discovered by new audiences all the time. There’s also, of course, the continued public recognition of “sexy AF Tig” – you were even on Tonight’s Show with Jimmy Fallon discuss. But I also think it’s another case of people who understand something long after the fact. There was a similar reaction on Twitter when you joined Star Trek: Discovery like Jett Reno.
TN: Yeah, it’s old news that I’m sexy AF. My wife said, “Where did everyone go?”
AVC: I think it’s interesting because on the one hand it’s not surprising – you were basically playing a crush on Le programme Sarah Silverman over 10 years ago.
TN: [Laughs.] I am on [Sarah] fell asleep watching people talk about me on Twitter. She said, “Please, it’s old. “
AVC: And now you’re part of the same ‘hotness’ discussion as the Chrises and other action stars. People are willing to talk openly about what they like.
TN: Exactly, and I have to be honest, it’s fun being 50 and trending to be in this hot topic.
AVC: You also showed a romantic side in And Mississippi. It’s one of my favorite shows for the way it explores grief and recovery from trauma, but I think it’s also just a great romantic comedy. There was so much more story to tell, especially about Tig’s relationship with Kate, which is played by your wife, Stephanie Allynne. Have you thought about where you would have liked to take this story?
TN: I wanted this storyline to run through the entire series and it does. We had so many other ideas for the show and for the love story. There were clearly so many different topics that we wanted to cover through this series. But not everything on this show is really in my life. It was also the fun of the love story, is that there are things that are based on the truth, and it is not always my truth. It could be Stephanie’s or the writers of the show, but we also wanted to play with that. If we had future seasons of And Mississippi, we had other ideas of what we wanted to do with our relationship that weren’t really based on [Stephanie’s and my] truth.
AVC: When you go from designing a show, playing it, seeing it until the end, having that kind of creative control and then being directed as part of an ensemble for something like Army of the dead or Star Trek: Discovery, what does this change look like?
TN: I love it. There’s something so fun and liberating about not being the producer, not being the writer, not being the star. One of the fun parts of Star Trek: Discovery, for me, it is that they let me pass from time to time. A lot of times I hear people say, “Oh, they don’t use you enough” or “How come they don’t let you …?” I’m like, ” Star Trek let me do anything. I have a full career in stand-up and other projects and the fact that they’re so flexible to make my schedule work – I’m so lucky, and it’s so much fun that others people write for me and succeed. Star Trek, every time I get a script, I’m like, “Oh, I can’t wait to see what my character is going to say. That was the thing with Army of the dead. I really enjoyed saying these lines.
AVC: due to the circumstances of the resumption of shooting Army of the dead, you probably weren’t able to play with the dialogue or the scenes. But in general, when working with other people on their shows or movies, have you found that you have room for a bit of homework or improvisation? And is that something you are looking for in a work environment?
TN: I really don’t improvise too much when I move on to someone else’s project. I usually take care of the project because I love it and I love what they did. There may be a word or line a bit here and there that I could adjust, but it’s usually very minimal. I’ve heard people say, “Oh, I can tell you were riffing Star Trek, “And I’m like,” No. No I’m not. Someone wrote this for me and they did a really good job. It’s not my choice to show up on a TV show or a movie and just say, “Hey, I’d like to go crazy here a little bit. I’ll riffle a bit. If it happens organically in a scene, or if the director encourages us to do it, or if my stage partner kicks in, maybe something will happen. But I usually try to learn my lines and do as they write.
Stroke: Have you done a lot of green screen actors before Army of the dead?
TN: No, I’ve definitely been on a green screen before and had a background placed behind me, but nothing like that.
AVC: theatrical release for Army of the dead is one of the last signs of a return to “the days before”. What’s your idea of coming back to the world or getting back to normal? What does it look like to you?
TN: I have to say I have two kids, and they’re 4, and my biggest need right now is to go do stuff with them. Stephanie and I can’t wait to take them home and show them their family, bring them to see all of their cousins in Texas and hit the beach and the pool. That’s really what I can’t wait to do is bring them out into the world again and experience it together.
AVC: What about in terms of work? Are there more stand-ups on the horizon for you?
TN: Oh yes, of course. My agent is currently booking a big market tour across the country, and I’m hoping to do a special stand-up based on the material I’m going to be doing on this tour. I’m happy to do it, but I was also perfectly fine to take a little time and not stand-up for a year and two or three months. It will be more than that by the time I step out. I could come back and be the world’s worst stand-up.
AVC: It’s probably different from your point of view, but for me one of the characteristics of your comedy is that you make a lot of money from an anecdote. Happy to be here has very elaborate and extensive configurations. A lot of times with the stand-up, or really most performances or productions, people think about the beat, and they want the jokes or the action to happen constantly. But with your stand-up, it’s kind of a very serpentine storytelling – there’s a real journey into these jokes. How has it evolved?
TN: I feel like I always have to blame my mom or give my mom credit. She was my comedy hero growing up and was really such a key person in my comedy. I remember after my mom passed away and I did stand-up, and her best friend came to one of my shows, and she came to see me afterwards and she said, “You think that you had that all by yourself? ” I said, “No,” and she said, “Yeah, she’s your mom.” I know that. I can feel it.