In August, standup comedian Tig Notaro was diagnosed with breast cancer. The next day, she performed a set at Largo in Los Angeles, announcing her illness and launching into an extremely honest and darkly comic 30-minute routine that quickly became the stuff of comedy legend.
Now, one week after Notaro released “Live,” a recording of the Aug. 3 set, exclusively on Louis CK’s website, the standup special has sold more than 75,000 copies. That sales record would place “Live” at No. 3 on the Billboard charts this week were CK’s website set up for Soundscan certification, according to the AV Club.
“Live” (as in “to live”) was released exclusively on Louis CK’s site for the price of $5 – $1 to CK for hosting fees and $4 for Notaro, a portion of which will go to cancer research.
Only days after “Live” was released, it was downloaded more than 55,000 times, earning CK, Notaro, and the charity of her choice a gross total of $275,000. Clearly the set’s emotional material has resonated with standup fans.
Notaro’s 30-minute set, which would later become “Live” began making waves online minutes after she left the stage at Largo. Upon seeing Notaro, Louis CK tweeted, “in 27 years doing this, I've seen a handful of truly great, masterful standup sets. One was Tig Notaro last night at Largo.”
Before long, the special began took on a legendary status in comedy circles, leading to much of the audio being featured on an episode of "This American Life" and the “Live” special being released by Louis CK.
In addition to dealing with cancer, in the special, Notaro also discusses the death of her mother, a mysterious illness and a rough breakup – all of which happened in the span of four months.
“I got pneumonia, and then I contracted this life-threatening, deadly illness called C. diff.,” Notaro explained in an interview with Conan O’Brien. “It's this bacteria that just eats your intestines. I was in the hospital for a week, lost 20 pounds ... and then it was my birthday a couple days after the hospital. ... A few days after that, my mother passed away unexpectedly ... a freak accident. ... I got off of a relationship shortly after that, and then I was diagnosed with cancer. ... This was all in four months.”
The good news out of all of this? Notaro announced recently that she is cancer-free.