We are thrilled to announce World of Wonder veteran Ashley York‘s documentary premiere of comedian Tig Notaro at Sundance this Monday, January 26th! Both Rolling Stone and the Huffington Post said Tig is a “must-see” at Sundance. We sat down with producer Ashley York and got some insight on the making of Tig, including an answer to most difficult part of the project (not laughing!). Here’s some more info on the documentary:
“Good evening, I have cancer,” comedian Tig Notaro famously announced in front of a stunned audience back in 2012. “Everyone having a good time? I have cancer.” In just 30 minutes, Notaro not only revealed her grave prognosis, she delivered the news with a disarming mixture of humor and vulnerability. The set became a media sensation and critical smash overnight and, as Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York’s new documentary reveals, helped push the beloved comedian past a series of devastating setbacks. Having just recovered from a life-threatening infection and still in mourning over her mother’s sudden passing, Notaro’s subsequent discovery of bilateral breast cancer left her no choice but to turn profound pain into an ongoing punch line, both on and off the stage. The result is an alternately poignant and playful window into a comedian’s process turning her worst fears and anxieties into pure comic gold.
And now Ashley York on the making of Tig!
Tig is absolutely lovely. She is so unique. She is as serious as she is funny, and brave, smart and honest.
What was it like working with Tig’s fans / making them a part of the documentary?
Tig’s fans are a loyal, fun, eclectic bunch of folks with whom it was a delight to chat during and after her shows. We interviewed dozens of them along the way, both here in Los Angeles and on the road when she was traveling. It was cool to see how she inspired and influences so many young comedians and storytellers. I really appreciate that they are influenced by someone who uses honesty and vulnerability as key storytelling techniques.
Describe the experience of balancing Tig’s humor with her loss (in making the film & in experiencing it first hand)?
Tig has said that being a subject in the film was a way for her to work through everything that has happened to her. It’s such a special and intimate experience to document someone’s life, especially somebody like Tig, who was navigating so many difficult circumstances – from her health, to the loss of her mother, to balancing her career with her love life.
What was the biggest challenge of making Tig?
Trying not to laugh during filming! Tig is hilarious and it was truly a challenge to keep the laughter to a minimum during a lot of the scenes we filmed with her.
What has been your favorite part of the overall experience so far?
Working alongside Tig has been a lot of fun – it’s been challenging and rewarding to collaborate with Tig making a film that is a hybrid of comedy and drama. My directing partner, Kristina Goolsby, and I are blessed to have partnered with many wonderful folks who have made making and finishing the film possible. These include our peers in the documentary filmmaking community who helped us navigate the process of making our very first feature film, our producing partners at Beachside Films who were as inspired by Tig’s story as we were, and the many folks who crewed the film. Making a film is a process, and it takes a village of smart, talented, and capable folks to make it happen. Working alongside and learning from each and every person who contributed to this production has been the best part of making the film.
What was your personal takeaway from the doc?
Trusting that everything is where it should be. Tig has said time and time again that she wouldn’t change anything that happened to her. Working alongside her was a constant reminder about the value of presence and acceptance and trust.
How do you think the doc will influence viewers?
We hope it makes them laugh!
Describe your experience of learning that Tig would premiere at Sundance.
I was driving home from downtown Los Angeles when I got the call. That call you always hear folks talk about, where they tell you that your movie is going to premiere at one of the most famous film festivals in the world. It was on a Wednesday afternoon. The fellow who called identified himself as David Courier, who is a senior programmer at the festival. He said he was trying to reach me and my directing partner (Kristina Goolsby) to “ask us a question about our film.” I was thinking, “oh lord, what might that be?” Shortly thereafter, he simply said he was calling to invite us to premiere our film at a little festival that takes place in Park City, Utah in January. He asked if we were familiar with it. It was most certainly one of those dream come true moments in time!
Tig premieres at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 26th.