You don’t have to look hard for the increasing crossover between your average comedy fan and your average music fan. Ever since the middle of the decade, the two scenes have become almost identical, with festivals as far ranging as Sasquatch and Pitchfork dedicating an entire stage for stand-up. Sure most of it tends to fall on the alternative side of things – but its ascendance is still noteworthy, especially when you consider how someone like Tig Notaro is readying a comedy record for a label as notable as Secretly Canadian. Prefix recently got in contact with Ms. Notaro to talk about her album and the state of stand-up in the indie rock world. For those on the inside she’s a beloved performer, on the outside she’s the one responsible for putting out that Jens Lekman track a few weeks back. It’s a strange place to be when fostering a career, and her thoughts on comedy’s place in the universe a website like Prefix occupies were quite illuminating. Below the answers you can listen to a preview of her album Good One which is out on Aug. 2 and a link to her weekly, philosophy-centered podcast Professor Blastoff.
You seem like you’ve been involved with quite a few projects lately, you’ve got an album coming out and the podcast, do you feel busy?
Definitely, but it’s good. Everyone I’m surrounded by inspires me and/or makes me laugh, so the work and time is hardly an issue. I feel really lucky in life. Even travel is something I do a lot of, but i can’t bring myself to complain since it’s exactly what I hoped to be doing with my life. I’m not an actor turned comedian frustrated that I’m missing auditions back in LA. I’m a comedian who signed up for this. Bringing friends on the road to hang out or open for me though is always nice.
How did you get in contact with Secretly Canadian?
One of their artists, Jens Lekman came to a show of mine at SXSW a few years ago and told me he was a fan of mine. After that, I went to his live show and was blown away by his greatness. Maybe a year later he contacted me online and asked if I’d want to go on tour with him for a few weeks. The label folks were along for most of the tour and I got to know them that way. After maybe another year passed, my tour took me through Bloomington, IN where the label is based and they came to a few of my shows and then ended up offering me a deal. I knew immediately they were who I wanted to release my CD with. I’m their only comedian, so they are really excited about it. As am I. I hadn’t had an interest in putting out an album until Secretly Canadian.
What about being on an independent, music-oriented label as a comedian do you like?
I don’t feel like I’ve signed to a comedy label that is clearly just signing everyone they can get their hands on and then abandoning the project. It feels very deliberate and hopefully it will be a way for my release to stick out a bit. I have faith in the label and they’re all such wonderful humans.
Lately there’s been an increasing synchronicity between comedy and music – a lot of festivals have stages dedicated to stand up, do you think it’s a fad or something that will continue in the future?
I can’t imagine it’s a fad. The comedy shows are always so slammed. At Bonnaroo there was an all day wait in the scorching sun to get into the comedy show. It’s rare to find someone passionate about comedy that isn’t about music too. And it seems like the audience likes the nice break to go see comedy after non-stop music. Sometimes comedy is during the day at these festivals and then the main music shows are at night, so nobody is really competing. I really think it’s a perfect pairing at festivals.
You’ve been called an “alternative comedian” a few times, which has some positive and negative tags – what do you think of that term?
I think nothing of it. Just as I think nothing of being a female comedian. Whatever people want to categorize me as, knock yourself out. I truly only identify with being a comedian though. I pride myself on doing alternative rooms (meaning non-traditional venues like an art gallery with a sea of comedy nerds), mainstream comedy clubs, rock clubs, theaters, colleges, and living rooms, etc.
You seem to be pretty interested in music, I’ve seen you open for Jens Lekman and he debuted a song of his on your podcast – what do you like about performing in an indie rock club environment?
It’s not really the venue for me; it’s the show that’s put together and the enthusiasm of the other performers, the promoter, and the crowd. It all makes a difference. I don’t like all rock clubs. I like a good sound system and many don’t have that. If a good show is put together, regardless of where it is, I’m usually game.
Do you think being in that sort of environment causes some performers to pander?
Not sure what others are doing, but I really hope I don’t pander. Not just in rock clubs, but anywhere. I don’t really change my show for different gigs. I do what I do and then if the audience isn’t into it, my back up plan is to just hope for the best.
And lastly, because this is for Prefix – one of your signature bits is about Taylor Dane, do you still listen to Taylor Dane?
Absolutely! Why would I stop listening to something so great? I’m no fool.