Humor

Tig Notaro's New Netflix Special Is AWESOME (& Jennifer Aniston Agrees)

Tig's Ability to Portray and Parlay Hateful and Discriminatory Stances as Ironic Makes her Humor Subversive.

I'll get to Jennifer later, that was just an attention grabber...

Whether you have been a fan of Tig for years, or just fell in love with her show One Mississippi, her recent Netflix Special Happy To Be Here is lovely/hysterical/spot on/enjoyable/worth watching and many more positive adverbs. Tig is most famous for her comedy surrounding extreme life events that she survived like cancer, a double mastectomy, death of her mother, and almost dying from c-diff. That's not what this special is about.

Tig proves she is not only able to make great comedy out of life's misery she is able to make jokes and find humor in the non-dramatics of life - the diapers, the dumb questions your loving spouse asks you, and how people react to your parenting choices. She paints us a picture of a calmer, happier, more stable and healthy phase of life and yet, you will be slapping your knee, mouth open, no sound coming, until your laugh finds its way out.

How great is it that Tig normalizes gay-ness (whatever that is), femaleness, breast-less-ness, etc.? A boyish lesbian with a double mastectomy can still make jokes about day-to-day life. Tig doesn't relegate her humor to lesbian jokes, cancer jokes, etc. Tig has a wife, her wife asks her wicked dumb questions (like "What do you think they are serving for breakfast on the flight this morning?" and "Do you think you should meow at our cat? You don't know what you could be saying to her."). I won't spoil much more of her special but as I said, don't expect just gay jokes, women jokes, cancer stuff. This special is for everyone.

Tig is one of those people who makes everything funny. Her delivery is suuuuper dry. She is comfortable thinking through something on stage, and she doesn't tell "jokes." Tig tells stories, and offers us her unique, hysterical perspective. While I said this special is not relegated to cancer, gay, and death jokes, of course those elements are included, as is marriage, motherhood, and being famous. Tig is able to offer a vantage point on all of these topics from both a marginalized and empowered perspective. Tig is clearly comfortable with so many aspects of herself that so many people in this world are still so uncomfortable with. Tig is able to name this discomfort that others have with her, without blaming them.

What a gift Tig offers us, being able to be comfortable with other people's discomfort. In a world where the news and politicians are polarized, people have to choose sides, choose one community over the other, claim one identify over another, just by being herself, Tig is often able to stand smack in the middle of the fray. She doesn't feed off controversy, but certainly relishes irony. Her ability to portray and parlay hateful and discriminatory stances as ironic is what makes her humor so subversive. When Tig is onstage, it's as if she is leading her own peaceful protest that we all get to watch.

PS: Sounds Like Jennifer Aniston thinks Tig is all that as well since she is on board to star in Netflix's new show First Ladies.

Keepin' It Real

Rachel


By Rachel Hall, Rachel has a Masters in Cultural Gender Studies, is a writer, a personal coach, and even though she is very very fun (just ask her three-year-old daughter) due to her academic inclinations, always the pooper at the party. She works with all kinds of people to improve their ability to work with all kinds of people. She can often be found hiding from her two children in her laundry room. More about her on her website.

FILM & TV

THE REAL REEL | What's So Funny About Splitting Up Together?

This Show's Portrayal of Divorce Actually is Not Far Off

Jenna Fischer we love you. We loved you in The Office and we were ready to love you in almost anything…almost.

ABC's Splitting Up Together might have to fall in the almost category. While no one wants to be pigeonholed, when you think of Jenna Fischer you think of understated, funny, ironic, witty, etc. Splitting Up Together is cutesy, overstated, and serves up obvious punch-lines like hot cakes at IHOP.

Despite the ridiculousness of the almost exclusively white upper-class affluence this show is set in…from a socioeconomic perspective, it's portrayal of what divorce actually might look like is not far off. The fact is, the only reason this show is funny, is because middle class white people are choosing not to divorce like wealthier white people. "Isn't it funny we can't afford two 4-bedroom houses!? Isn't that funny?!!" No, not really. Working class people can't afford to divorce any other way. Splitting Up Together makes financial realities look light-hearted and fun because they had more to start with than most families in America. Oh, and because it's a sitcom on ABC.

When my parents divorced it meant my mom moved into a one-bedroom apartment. She slept in the living room on a daybed, and I slept in the "real room" so I could have a door to close for bedtime, playtime, etc. It wasn't because we were about to starve to death; it was just because we were working-class. We could afford to eat, to go to the movies occasionally, have potlucks, take classes at the rec center, etc.

My dad lived in a small house that he rented in a poorer part of town, but not the worst part of town. As a child I never went without food, electricity, etc., however because of the TV shows I watched and the school I went to, I thought I was being raised in poverty. One of the main reasons I felt "poor" was because I qualified for a full scholarship to private school and got to go to school with some of the wealthiest kids in my city. Had I gone to my local (partly gang-ridden) public school, I would have felt middle class, average, normal.

When it comes to shared-custody situations, the media usually shows wealthy divorces. Kids being shuttled around (and ignored) in the latest mini-van, a doting nanny, a self-absorbed single parent who hates the other self-absorbed single parent, etc. Usually the kids are caught in the middle, the parents don't get along, and they all go home to their beautifully furnished homes. There are problems, but they can afford to solve them without having to communicate in person with the co-parent. Large sums of alimony just magically fill bank accounts. This doesn't happen for most divorced families.

When you don't have lots of money, you might need to live close to your ex, perhaps even in the same house. You might have to take turns picking the kids up from school because you have shift work that is unstable and changes from week to week. You also might rely on each other's families for continued financial support, childcare, holiday observance, birthdays, etc. You don't send a nanny as a go-between, cleanly depositing your children at your former husband or wife's compound. Nope, you drive your own beat-up car to the agreed upon drop off location, and if you can't afford to move out of your ex's home, sometimes that means just walking to the basement apartment or next door (my parents lived in a side-by-side duplex at one point).

I'm sure you have heard of the "Kids Stay" model that suggests keeping kids in the same home and letting the divorced parents travel back and forth. It's so funny that white upper class people need to formalize this with fancy names, when poor people have been doing this for years. Who can afford two houses?! Upper class peeps.

So, if you are upper class, come from divorce, and were shuttled around by nannies, you will think this show is a real hoot. But if you remember staying in your pajamas, walking from your dad's kitchen, to your mom's "living room" you might not see what's so knee slappingly funny. You might just watch and think, wow, that house is beautiful and looks big enough to house four more people.

Keep it Real

Rachel


By Rachel Hall, Rachel has a Masters in Cultural Gender Studies, is a writer, a personal coach, and even though she is very very fun (just ask her three-year-old daughter) due to her academic inclinations, always the pooper at the party. She works with all kinds of people to improve their ability to work with all kinds of people. She can often be found hiding from her two children in her laundry room. More about her on her website.

FILM & TV

THE REAL REEL | Tully Highlights One Of Our Greatest Fears As Mothers

I Care Less if this Film is "Accurate" and More that it Strikes an Undeniable Chord for Parents.

Ooof. I knew Charlize Theron's Tully included a postpartum aspect, but spoiler alert…I didn't know it know it was a slit your wrist, Portland winter, dark as shi* kind of flick.

Let me tell you, if you were hoping for a 'ha ha ha she doesn't feel like putting on real clothes so she wore her pajamas to the grocery store'…this is not it. Now…if you are in the mood for contemplating just how unrealistic and antiquated the expectations that we place on "modern" motherhood are…(so antiquated and un-doable that you just might want to kill yourself)… well hey! Do I have a movie for you!

Sense my sarcasm? It's how I deal with the stark and dark realities of life, but I will tone it down because this movie asks us to look at some serious stuff. We have all read the millions of articles on the challenges of modern motherhood. Brave women have come forth in droves, expressing that even if they could "have it all," they don't want it. "All" being, a sparkly career full of recognized organizational achievements, a happy partnership complete with romance, compassion, balanced, but not too gendered, with perfect equal division of labor, well-fed, home-cooked, mealed-up, kids, and loads of "gal pal" time filled with late night wine & dines, that miraculously have zero repercussions on the following 5AM wake up by your children…and whatever else I am leaving off of this instagram-worthy curated lifestyle.

This lifestyle is not possible and women are so freaking sick of seeing pictures of it. Yet…we keep posting pics of incessant happiness, moments deemed worthy of capture, proving the struggle is worth it…a life raft during a midnight squall, the waves our tears, and sometimes they are so high that we choke.

Tully has been regarded as too dark by some, spot on by others, and a cautionary tale for many. Throwing on my mama hat (not that I can take it off…but I pretend sometimes), I care less if this film is "accurate" and more that this film strikes an undeniable chord for parents. This film reminds me of one of my biggest fears (aside from my kids dying or getting sick and thousand other worries). The fear that in order for me to make great kids, I must not be great. If I am "great," than my kids will suffer, my relationship will suffer. If my relationship is great, and my career is great…surely my kids can't be great.

Working moms everywhere…THIS IS NOT TRUE. I KNOW. STOP YELLING AT ME. I work too, though this year much less than some of you. I have a relationship that despite challenges is more meaningful and I am more grateful for than I ever imagined. That being said, having kids puts me in a constant state of choosing them over everything over and over and over again.

Women are still asked to put their kids first. Some of us want to, some of don't, some of us want to some of the time, and some of us want to very little. The world judges us if we want to care for our kids all of the time as we are deemed career–less, pathetic, smotherers and are pitied by some…or we make working moms feel guilty. Working moms are deemed self-obsessed and neglectful, and make the SAM's (stay-at-home moms) feel like they are wasting their potential. And those of us who work part-time and stay at home part time feel like we are often sucking at both.

We have heard these stories over and over and we have vowed to ease up on each other. But...there is a psychological toll this constant choosing takes on us. We are often not confidant in our choices even though we choose them. We are waiting to see if our careers inspire our young daughters, or if they will resent us for not being there enough. Or perhaps if our kids grow up and think that we are pathetic for having been there too much. And what happened to what we wanted…before motherhood and even after? What about our partnerships that are so much worse in some ways, and so much better in other ways?

Why are women able to write about this but when it comes down to it…we are all lucky if we can tell one other person WHAT OUR LIVES ARE REALLY LIKE. How many times a day we cry. How many times a day we wonder if our relationship has what it takes for the long hall…or if the long hall is something that is even a relevant goal post. After all, isn't the millennium all about living in the moment?

Tully shows us that the bar is not only too high… it's misplaced. Just when you take your final sweaty, breathless step across the finish line, the line gets pushed back just a little farther. So much of these markers of success are so external, commodity based, and leave us alone and lonely. How often does child-rearing mean one caregiver alone with a child? Do you know what it's like to be alone with a child…or two or three for hours and hours? For days and days? It's soul sucking. And this is coming from someone who absolutely loves being a mother. Not in a smothering, my house is perfect, and kids are well-dressed, and organized at-home activities kind of way…but in the overflowing bathtub, me screaming to get off the banister, put your freaking shoes on, stop drawing on the wall, I said put your shoes on! When is my husband/mom/friend getting here to be with me kind of way.

Be with me. Be with us. Watch us parent. Help us. Witness us. See the messes. See how we cope. Be proud of how we handled that. Look at that meltdown we avoided. Look at that meltdown we caused. Watch how we convinced/brushed/put on/took off/picked up/wiped/washed/band-aided/tucked/soothed/held. No one saw Tully and she slipped away.

If you see us…we will see ourselves.

Sincerely,

Mama Rachel


By Rachel Hall, Rachel has a Masters in Cultural Gender Studies, is a writer, a personal coach, and even though she is very very fun (just ask her three-year-old daughter) due to her academic inclinations, always the pooper at the party. She works with all kinds of people to improve their ability to work with all kinds of people. She can often be found hiding from her two children in her laundry room. More about her on her website.


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