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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Tig Notaro: Hello Again’ on Prime Video, a mother “or whatever” in tune with her feelings and her audience

Eight years after the comedian brought a semi-autobiographical account of life in her 40s to Prime Video with One Mississippi, Tig Notaro is back on Prime with her first solo stand-up special for the streaming giant. So that makes one way for her to be saying “Hello Again” to the Amazon subscribers. But she’s also got Adele’s “Hello” on her brain, too, and she teases us with piano. Will there be a singalong or even a surprise or two? Can we stay tuned to find out? Can she?

The Gist: It has now been a dozen years since Notaro broke through with her Grammy-nominated album, “Live,” in which she revealed her newly diagnosed breast cancer to her audience. Since then, it’s been heady times for Notaro, releasing two stand-up specials for HBO, another for Netflix, and starred in two separate documentaries about her personal and professional lives, along with the aforementioned One Mississippi. More recently, Notaro replaced Chris D’Elia in Zach Snyder’s Netflix zombie flick, Army of the Dead, joined the cast of The Morning Show on Apple TV+, and scored roles in three other streaming movies: Your Place or Mine, We Have a Ghost, and Instant Family.

With her wife, Stephanie Allynne, they co-directed the feature film, Am I OK?, coming to Max later this year, and Allynne directed Notaro in this special.

She might find herself attending more star-studded parties these days thanks to her ongoing work, but Notaro also still finds plenty of reasons and ways to humble herself, whether at those parties or even at home with her wife and their two young sons. And somehow she’s still discovering new ways to land in the emergency room, although there’s a happy ending and some surprising revelations for her to laugh about along the way.

Memorable Jokes: Amazon has put the first few minutes on YouTube for you to sample, but not the opening gag, which juxtaposes the hype over Notaro’s comedy with the reality of her deadpan, dry, existence in real life.

Despite her rising star in Hollywood, Notaro is quick to remind us of her place in her own household, where her wife is “is by far…the most popular in our family” while Notaro herself is either an afterthought or a hindrance to Max and Finn, their songs who are pushing eight years old. And that’s when Notaro is at full strength.

As she joked a couple of years ago for Netflix’s Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ Celebration, an unexpected medical emergency produced an even more unexpected reaction out of the comedian when a muscled and mustachioed fireman came to the rescue.

She retells that story here, but with extra flourish and more tags imagining her life in a nightgown, and wants us to believe that since we’re already onboard with Notaro by attending the show or watching her online, we’re probably the type of people to get why Notaro reacted the way she did in this situation. Even if it might not seem plausible on paper, or definitely within the realm of possible outcomes for her wife.

As Notaro has hit her 50s, she’s also experiencing some hearing loss, leading to amusing misunderstandings both at the airport as well as when she’s in production meetings with one of her more famous co-stars, Reese Witherspoon.

She’s also dealing with back issues wrecking her to the point where wound up on medications she was allergic to, prompting another series of accidental consequences.

The closing section of her special takes a completely different tack, as the crew wheels out a piano as if she’s going to play and sing for us. But does she even know how to play the piano? Can she carry a tune at all?

Our Take: Notaro continues to make more than the most out of her series of unfortunate medical circumstances, but she also has discovered plenty of ways to turn her sexuality (and specifically our expectations or labels on her) into another humorous advantage. Not just with the fireman story, but also with a woman who flaps her hand, dismissively describing Notaro as “whatever,” when really, she reveals just a run-of-the-mill lesbian with a surprising taste in men.

But that woman’s hand-waving, much like the movement of a stool or the sound of a clown horn in previous stand-up bits of Notaro’s, becomes a useful act-out for callbacks aplenty.

For as much as Notaro loves repeating a phrase or a physical action over and over for as many laughs as she can wring out of it, she also has a penchant for the long, drawn-out teases. Is she kidding or isn’t she? To the point where in her closing bit, she manages to keep the audience guessing as to whether she will break out into song, or whether she might even introduce one of her famous friends or acquaintances onstage to duet with her.

She has done it before with the Indigo Girls. Could she do it again, with Adele? The answer may or may not surprise you.

Our Call: STREAM IT. Toward the end of her set, Notaro apologizes not for her piano-playing but for the idea that anyone might’ve bought a ticket or clicked to see her without knowing what her comedy is all about. When she then asks for audience requests, multiple shouts drown each other out, even if none of them will be granted quite how they hoped. “We came here for the hits, Tig,” Notaro quips in response. This hour delivers a few bangers, as well as a few B-sides and deep cuts. All in all, then, it’s classic Tig.

One side note: Now that Amazon has introduced ads to most Prime Video subscriptions, it’s quite jarring, even if you grew up watching stand-ups on basic cable with Comedy Central, to see Amazon break into Notaro’s performance twice with commercials. How quickly we’ve grown accustomed to streaming our stand-up uninterrupted.

Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat. He also podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin stories: The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.

Read the author’s full story here

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