Tig Notaro opens up about why "the horror doesn't go away," even after serious illness

The "One Mississippi" creator and star talks to Salon about life after the worst year of her life

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published September 9, 2017 8:30AM (EDT)

Tig Notaro was already a respected fixture in standup comedy when, in 2012, she catapulted to a new level of attention by uttering four words at the start of a now famous set at the Los Angeles club Largo.

"Hello," she told the audience. "I have cancer." 

Notaro's  frankness about her diagnosis — all while also chronicling a time that included an additional serious health crisis, the sudden death of her mother and a painful breakup — garnered her a jolt of high-profile praise and a whole new audience of fans. Soon after, it became the inspiration for her lauded Amazon series "One Mississippi," costarring Notaro's real-life wife Stephanie Allynne.

"The show is about this time period where everything fell apart in a short period of time," Notaro told Salon. "After I went through all of that, I truly somehow believed I was through all of the hard stuff in life and  well, now, it's smooth sailing. I really really thought that."

But life had more in store for Notaro.

"It wasn't what I went through in the four months of 2012, but life continues to dole out serious challenges — and tremendously wonderful, beautiful things too. But the horror doesn't go away," she said.

The show is back now for its second season, and Notaro recently celebrated a milestone: five years of being cancer free. We sat down earlier this week to talk about the reality check that a perfect storm of bad news can provide. Watch our conversation in the video.

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

MORE FROM Mary Elizabeth Williams