Tig Notaro performed a brilliantly deadpan set last night during the New York Comedy Festival. There was just one deviation from her usual routine: She was topless for the last half of her performance.
The Huffington Post was in attendance and saw what could be considered one of the year's stand-out moments for women in comedy.
After going through a bit about being pat down by a TSA security agent, who refused to believe Notaro was a woman because she didn't have breasts -- Notaro had a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 -- an audience member shouted out "woo!" as Notaro began to take off her blazer. Notaro, who was wearing jeans, a button-down pink shirt and the aforementioned blazer, seemed to get a kick out of it, asking, "Did you not hear the story I was just telling?" She then joked, "I'm about one more 'woo' away from going topless."
Naturally, multiple "woos" sprung out from the crowd. Notaro proceeded to pull off her shirt entirely and continue her set as if nothing had happened. She addressed it only to say that she was sure people were wondering, "When is she gonna...?" Presumably, the rest of that sentence was "put her shirt back on."
"I'm not gonna," Notaro said in answer to her own rhetorical question.
She went on to tell the audience about how her cheeky, sixth-grade self duped a classmate, before leading the crowd in a "Yellow Submarine" singalong and getting an enthusiastic standing ovation (per her request).
By taking off her shirt, Notaro addressed the multi-faceted relationship women have with their bodies. While she challenged the nature of the catcall (in this case, in the form of a joking "woo"), she seemed to be simultaneously speaking to the women who feel shame about losing their breasts after cancer. Her performance was poignant and subtle in all the right ways -- subtle being a serious feat considering she was topless.
Notaro first garnered high-profile praise in 2012 during a now-legendary performance in which she revealed a series of tragic events that had recently transpired in her life, including her breakup, her mother's unexpected death and her breast cancer diagnosis. A tearful Louis C.K. was in attendance, and he tweeted, "in 27 years doing this, I've seen a handful of truly great, masterful standup sets. One was Tig Notaro last night at Largo."
Last night's show was another one for the books.