Animated Stand-Up Comedy Special ‘Tig Notaro: Drawn’ is a Must-See


Screenshot from the official trailer for “Tig Notaro: Drawn.” (Courtesy HBO)

By Frank Gardner, Assistant Arts Editor


Emmy and Grammy-nominated comedian Tig Notaro’s latest stand-up special “Tig Notaro: Drawn” is something we’ve never seen before. Her latest work lands right at the intersection of adult cartoons and stand-up comedy and is the first-ever completely animated stand-up special.

The dry sarcasm and storytelling that launched Notaro’s career are still very much a part of the narrative, but her personal, introspective storytelling adds a whole new dimension to her comedy. The animation of the special bolsters the humor in her stories by giving audiences a visual for the funny — and sometimes dark — slices of life that Notaro explores in her comedy. 

Humor in the Details

In the special, among other things, Notaro dives into the gender-neutral anatomy of the Kool-Aid man, her obsession with Eddie van Halen and embarrassing moments from her youth. As a comedian, she is notorious for finding humor in the innocuous details of life — she’s excellent at seeing the funny side of things that you might not think to laugh about. A large part of the act wades through her health struggles including everything from her cancer diagnosis to her mom’s unexpected passing. 

Stephanie Allynne, Notaro’s wife, is mentioned often, especially in the story of their engagement which happened while Notaro was in the hospital due to internal bleeding and sitting on a bedpan. She brings out the humor in a similar story about her painful wisdom tooth removal and subsequent drug-induced delirium trying to find her friend to take her back to the hospital.

Listening to her stories, the laughter comes easily, and the resolution of the horrifying details is shocking, relieving and completely ridiculous. This side of the act is balanced by the hopeful resilience that has come from finding humor in the hard parts of life. 

Animating Comedy

It’s hard to believe this is the first animated stand-up comedy special audiences are seeing after both stand-up comedy and adult cartoons have reached such high levels of success in years past — especially because comedians are often enlisted to write or ghostwrite some of those cartoons. Whatever has kept the two separate all this time probably won’t remain once people see how successfully the two can be as one. 

The different animation styles used throughout the stories was reminiscent of the fan art episode of Bob’s Burgers. Though not quite as haphazard, the variation in how the stories were animated added flavor and personality to the individual anecdotes. The animation told a story of its own by hyperbolizing and extrapolating, but somehow managed to do it in a way that wasn’t muddled or hard to follow. It really felt like stepping into the brain of Notaro, which was both hilarious and intimate. 

Her newest material is vibrantly colorful, side-splittingly funny and thoroughly entertaining. It had every element that fans have loved in her previous work from deadpan humor and banter with audience members to the personal elements of her life and work.

“Tig Notaro: Drawn” is a must-watch and is streaming on HBO Max.