Things to Do

The One Thing Tig Notaro Says to Never Do If You See Her in Public

Catch Notaro at the Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival this month.

Photograph by Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times.

Beloved oddball comedian Tig Notaro curates this annual gathering of cerebral funny people, which, in addition to her set, this year includes a taping of the popular podcast How Did This Get Made? and a double bill of Senator Al Franken and This American Life host Ira Glass. Here Notaro gives a preview of the festivities.

How did you get to be curator of this thing?

I did the DC Comedy Festival in 2008, and it ended up being the final year. I loved DC, and I was bummed the festival wouldn’t be coming back. I’d just performed at another festival—I don’t want to name names—and they treated me terribly. I thought, “It doesn’t seem like it takes that much to treat performers well.” Then I thought, “Well, maybe I’ll make my own festival and just see if it’s really that hard to treat people well.” So that’s kind of how I became the curator.

We’re living in a topsy-turvy world right now in DC, and you’re known for finding humor in tough subjects. Any advice?

I wish I knew. Even just “topsy-turvy”: I feel like it’s only turvy—there’s no topsy. I’m hoping in time there will be some topsy to the turvy, but I think the best advice is just to keep your eyes open and stay informed and look for humor whenever you can get it.

There’s always a chance that members of the Trump administration could come to your show. What would you say?

Um . . . get out. Not of my show—but out of the admin­istration! I don’t know what my message would be. It seems like everything that’s going on takes a very long, deep discussion. What would I say? It would be “Let’s sit down and really have a chat.” There are no easy answers.

You’re often in the audience for other Bentzen Ball performances. Any advice for people who might run into you?

Well, I don’t like being interrupted if I’m having lunch or something, but if I’m walking by, definitely say hi. I don’t mind if someone waves at me across the room. That’s fine. Be polite and have boundaries, that’s all. Say hi. That’s good general advice, to just say hi to people. But keep it moving!

What else should attendees know?

I want people to show up prepared to laugh and have joy in their heart and soul, and to know that we’re trying to just be a positive force. It should all be toward the ultimate goal of joy and happiness. That’s what’s a-brewin’ over at the Bentzen Ball.

Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival, October 26-27 at various venues around DC.

This article appears in the October 2017 issue of Washingtonian.

Editorial Fellow

Christine Jackson joined Washingtonian as an editorial fellow in summer 2017. She enjoys writing about art, culture, history, news of the weird and, occasionally, hockey. She is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and is an alumna of the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri, more affectionately known as Mizzou. For now you can find her hanging around Cathedral Heights.