SXSW 2015 Movie Review: Knock Knock, It’s Tig Notaro

Knock Knock, It’s Tig Notaro
Director: Michael LaHaie, Christopher Wilcha
Starring: Tig Notaro, Jon Dore
Release date: March 17, 2015 (SXSW)

In Knock Knock, It’s Tig Notaro, comedian Tig Notaro (In A World) sets out on a cross-country road trip, bringing her singular style of comedy to the living rooms, barns, back yards, and trailers of her most devoted fans. Like any road trip, all the jokes are inside jokes, the stories are better when you’re there, and basically you just have to experience it.

Jon Dore (Funny As Hell) joins Tig on the road as her show opener for audiences that are rarely over 15 people. They make comedy happen in the places where people really live, without stage lights (unless tractor headlights count), standing on homemade stages or no stages at all, in living room lounges, with the audience at arm’s length. Notaro and Dore, together with directors Michael LaHaie and Christopher Wilcha, capture the mortifying vulnerability of live performance. It’s magnified in the small settings, but they literally open the front door and walk right in.

Notaro, who’s done a similar tour without documentary cameras, seems at home in the unconventional venues. Dore on the other hand is visibly uncomfortable, particularly in the first home performance. However, as the film progresses we see him adapting and engaging with the audience in completely different ways. At one point he actually throws himself into the crowd while telling a joke. The film offers a glimpse of artists honing their craft and coming to a better understanding of what they do, and why.

It’s a surprisingly touching film. Dore and Notaro’s friendship is central to the story and it never feels forced. In one scene in particular, the duo encounter a combination fireworks and headstone road-side store. They discuss the logistics of headstone purchasing. An upright headstone or an in-ground marker? Should mourners lean over as they weep or sit on the grass in front of you? It’s the kind of humor Notaro fans will recognize, similar to her 2012 special “Tig Notaro Live.”

Knock Knock, It’s Tig Notaro is a film about taking chances and being willing to go where they lead you. It’s about bravery in creative work and in life, but above all, it’s just about being really, really funny.


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