death bell (hong-seung yoon, 2008)
geezer cinema: terminator: dark fate (tim miller, 2019)

film fatales #64: tig notaro: happy to be here (tig notaro, 2018)

Not sure if this qualifies as a movie ... where do you put stand-up comedy specials that run an hour or so? I'm calling it a movie, what the heck.

There is no confusion about the guiding light behind Happy to Be Here: Tig Notaro wrote it, directed it, and starred in what is essentially a one-woman show. Which is to say, it's a stand-up special. You don't come to Happy to Be Here worrying about the cinematography, you just want to know if it's funny. And comedy is perhaps more subjective than most genres. But Notaro isn't just about being funny. She deconstructs stand-up. Her jokes are of the shaggy dog variety, as she works her way around the topic, always threatening to reach the punchline, but never quite getting there. The punchline isn't necessarily the point. It's not that she frustrates the audience, but she messes with our expectations in a delightful way. She is not confrontational in Happy to Be Here ... she just wants us to join her on a journey as she tells us some stories that are funny. But the stories aren't the funniest part ... it's the getting there that matters.

The culmination is a long introduction to a special guest, her favorite group, the Indigo Girls. More than before, she plays with the audience, introducing the Indigo Girls only for nothing to happen, after which she teases us for thinking the Indigo Girls would actually show up, then teasing us for thinking they won't show up. This goes on for quite a while: introduction, no show, tease audience a couple of different ways, repeat. It would be a spoiler to tell how the routine ends up, and that in itself is a sign that Notaro is up to something different, for who would think a comedy special could have a spoiler?

(Explanation of the Film Fatales Series.)



Didn’t know anything about Notaro and then, in a very short span of time last year, she showed up as a guest on Colbert, we noticed her as a voice on Bob’s Burgers, and became my absolute favourite character on Star Trek: Discovery (basically the new Bones — she even has the line,”I’m an engineer, not a poet.”) One Mississippi has been on my list to watch for awhile but I’m mostly waiting for Jet Reno to return to my screen.

Steven Rubio

Glad you found her!

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