Director: Kristina Goolsby, Ashley York
Cast: Tig Notaro, Stephanie Allynne, Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifinakis
Have I Seen it Before: I’ve heard many of the jokes and I was aware of the story behind them, but I hadn’t seen the movie before.
Did I Like It: On spec, the documentary details Notaro’s journey from C.Diff diagnosis through her mothers death and eventually through the gauntlet of cancer feels like it might be unseemly. A documentary produced by the subject will have a tough time not being an act of self-promotion.
And yet, it never feels that way. What protects the film from a feeling of voyeurism? Primarily the film benefits from having a built-in arc for its main character. Notaro has plenty to overcome in the process of a very short time. In a scripted film, it might feel too much for a character, whereas in a documentary we as the audience will accept such an odyssey. What other option do we have?
Maybe it’s the reality that Notaro is one of the funniest people currently living, and so the proceedings are above all else funny. But I really think it is more than that. There is something fundamental to her persona that ensures she is not hungry for the attention that such a documentary would bring. She is living her life, but she would much rather you laugh at her material.
And then again, essential to her comedy is an honesty that might be considered oversharing in someone less adept at making comedic hay out of the misery that threatened to end her. And maybe that’s why the film works where other, similar documentaries feel tone deaf. It is a perfect synthesis of her comedic sensibilities into a different format. Trying to modify the context and soul of something into a completely different delivery system is a tall order. It almost always fails. It’s success here is both a testament to the resiliency of the subject and her comedy.