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Lions Roar : November 2013
shortly after that, and then I was diagnosed with cancer... This was all in four months. Notaro was being incredibly forthcoming about all she’d been through, but it wasn’t the first time. The first time was a month earlier, in the stand-up performance that Louis C.K. admired so much, the one released as Live. She pulled no punches in the performance, which begins “Hello! Good evening. Hello. I have cancer,” and spills forth from there. Furthering the sense of full disclosure, Live’s cover featured a photo of Notaro topless, her hands covering breasts that were no longer there. A double mas- tectomy had been called for. It worked. She remains cancer free. She also remains fearless, willing to address her experiences with illness and loss in her stand-up and as a writer for the hit sketch show Inside Amy Schumer. Professor Blastoff, the pod- cast she produces with fellow comic Kyle Dunnigan, provides a further glimpse into her thoughtful mind, looking at subjects ranging from her unusual connection to the late-eighties’ pop star Taylor Dayne to her thoughts about emotional intelligence, quantum physics, and enlightenment. Enlightenment, as defined by Professor Blastoff guest Kevin Berntson, a comic performer who meditates at Against the Stream in L.A., is “being okay with the push and pull of emo- tions or events.” Sounds a little like Tig, who told Salon earlier this year that her own worldview, post-illness and in the absence of her mother, is “about being in that moment and trying to real- ize what is happening, what is really happening.” Who Am I? Garry Shandling He’s a comic’s comic if ever there was one, but Garry Shandling is also a searcher—“a serious student of dharma,” as he’s put it— looking to find The Real Thing, and The Real Garry Shandling. Maybe that’s not a surprise, given how much of his work has played with ideas of self and ego: for example, the odd long- running It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, which applied a meta spin to the classic sitcom format, with Shandling, as himself, frequently breaking the fourth wall. And then there’s The Larry Sanders Show. Larry, which ran through most of the nineties, was a send-up of late-night TV, tracking the life and death of a Tonight-style show and its neurotic but lovable host. Careful not to put forth a too-simple, too-cynical view of show business, Shandling made sure that authenticity reigned: Larry and his staff of producers, handlers, and lackeys thought, acted, and treated each other like real people do. “It’s like taking a Buddhist temple bell,” Shandling has said, “an authentic, two-thousand-year-old Buddhist temple bell, and ringing it and going, ‘Can you tell me why that rings so purely?’ [It’s] because it’s the real thing. All these people in show business are human beings.” A longtime mindfulness practitioner in Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition, Shandling revealed his lesser-seen meditative side in bonus features shot for 2007’s Not Just the Best of The Larry Sanders Show DVD set. Having started the show to, in his words, “discover more, Who am I?” we see him visiting with a Zen monk and with friends from the Larry era who help him weigh the Garry of those days against the Garry of the present. When Jeffrey Tambor (who stole scenes as Sanders’ sidekick, Hank Kingsley) says, “The secret to everything [is,] don’t think,” it’s not a big leap to infer that he’s learned how to do this from his old boss and pal. The otherwise-private Shandling does lament the camera’s presence once or twice at these meetings, but we can see he’s really trying to be open, to be willing to say and hear things about himself—no matter how intimate. He even allows us to see his previously secret dharma tattoo, an enso (Zen circle) meant to remind him of his work toward, as he says, “Ego-emptiness.” As for finding The Real Garry Shandling, he seems to be get- ting warmer. Asked to contribute nuggets of experiential wis- dom for Esquire’s What I’ve Learned section, he included this among a clutch of one-liners: “Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence.” Is he a Buddhist? He resists the label. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Yet, for some, for- mally embracing the idea of being a Buddhist can make all the difference. PHOTOBYNATALIEKARDOSPHOTOCOURTESYOFHBO/ENTERTAINMENTPICTURES SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2013 63