I’m sure I stated this in some form or fashion before but I lead off this post with my thoughts on HBO Comedy. In the early days, standup comedy was on all the time. Some, if not most of the greats, had an HBO gig. Shall I drop the names Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Eddie Murphy, Richard Klein, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, Sam Kinison, Rodney Dangerfield, Steven Wright, and Gallagher? How about HBO HALF-HOUR COMEDY HOUR and DEF COMEDY JAM too? Anyway, my point is that stand-up is so far, few and in between on the network now. It is a rarity to see a standup set. Of course, the pandemic has made that even worse.
Have audiences moved away from conventional standup in the 2020s? Back in the day, the comedians packed them in and offered up their schtick whether it was mild or blue, made you laugh, dropped the mic, and awaited the shocking reviews. Today’s comedians, however, have got to find an in, an angle, a way to make it unique as to stand out. The latest trend that HBO picked up on was comedians that delved into their mental health issues and made audiences laugh as they ranted on depression and suicidal thoughts. They search for a gimmick to make it all memorable. That is where we find Tig Notaro.
The lady stepped up found a gimmick and offers it to us in TIG NOTARO: DRAWN. The comedian/actress couldn’t go out in front of a live audience in the age of COVID so she whipped up a routine done completely in animation. She found a way & a means to carry on her craft. Does this comedy special work; does it make you forget your troubles for an hour; does it make you laugh?
As the official PR states – This hour-long special blends Notaro’s signature voice and storytelling with a variety of captivating artistic styles as she recounts a hospital bed proposal, a high school talent show gone awry, the repercussions of a dental procedure, unintentionally blowing off fellow comedian Jenny Slate, a road trip with Dolly Parton, and more. It is funnier and more animated than you’ve ever seen her before!
One aspect that makes this a fun watch is that a number of animation styles are employed to illustrate each comedic story. There are close to a dozen different renderings of Notaro here and even if she is regurgitating older material, you wouldn’t notice it because your eyes are caught up in the animation, making it all fresh and vibrant. But again, does it make you laugh, or is it the gimmick that sells it? I mean, come on, Tig Notaro dresses drab and kind of wanders lazily through her routine in a rather unanimated style. What gets you is her way with wit and she has it in spades, as they say. The animation does indeed punch that up and puts a twinkle in her eye.
Don’t get me wrong, she is not at all downbeat, Steven Wright played it really downbeat, but nor is she kinetic energy unleashed like Kinison or Williams. The animated treatment does her well and it gives us a dose of standup comedy that we haven’t had in a long while. Take it in and enjoy and never look at the Kool-Aid Man the same way again.
TIG NOTARO: DRAWN debuted SATURDAY, JULY 24 and can now be found on HBO, the HBO channels and HBO Max.
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