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Lions Roar : November 2013
year. But aside from his endlessly inventive mind, his relentless honesty about himself is his greatest strength. “When you’re done telling jokes about airplanes and dogs,” he told a crowd while honoring Carlin, “what do you have left? You can only dig deeper. You start talking about your feelings... and then your fears and your nightmares... Eventually, you get to your balls.” Crudity aside, his point’s a real one, and he lives it. In his work, C.K. is only too happy to dissect what he sees in the mirror: his aging body, his drooping balls, his pettiness, and his capacity for hatred, which mostly comes back on himself. Yet, he exudes glee all the while—the glee of someone who’s been digging and dig- ging and is inching ever closer to the truth. He’s confronting the reality of the body and the mind. That must be why he fell in love with Tig Notaro’s now-famous performance from August 3 of last year, which he called one of the few “truly great, masterful stand-up sets” he’d seen in his life. The Great Matter Tig Notaro When thinking about Buddhism and comedy, it’s easy to think “Zen.” The diamond-like one-liners of Steven Wright, for exam- ple, have often been noted for their koan-like concision. And, like the Zen view itself, Wright’s world is boundless. Anything can happen. “I went into a place to eat,” he has quipped. “It said ‘breakfast anytime.’ So I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.” Also emphasized in Zen is what’s known as The Great Matter. This matter of life and death. She may not be a Zennie, but when it comes to life and death, Tig Notaro seems to be a stone-cold master. Her album, Live (not “Live” as in Live at the Apollo but as in the opposite of die), is the proof. I first really noticed Tig on Conan. She was doing a seem- ingly never-ending bit that mostly consisted of her dragging her standard-issue stand-up’s stool across the stage, its wooden legs scraping on the floor and emitting beagle-like howls. That was the whole bit: just producing and enjoying, reveling in, this odd sound. But Tig had the studio audience rapt with laughter. And me, too. Now fully a fan, I felt actual disappointment when Tig cancelled a subsequent appearance. But she had good reason; life was becoming complicated. As she explained to O’Brien in a later return slot: I got pneumonia, and then I contracted this life-threatening, deadly illness called C. diff., and it’s this bacteria that just eats your intestines. I was in the hospital for a week, lost twenty pounds... Then it was my birthday... After that, my mother passed away unexpectedly, a freak accident. I got off of a relationship SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2013 62