The Luckiest Unlucky Person

with Tig Notaro

How do you live knowing life can just come undone at a moment’s notice? In the span of a few months, Tig Notaro received three life-threatening illnesses, unexpectedly lost her mom, and went through a breakup. Tig is a brilliant comedian whose real life informs her comedy and has a lot to teach us about living honestly in the face of reality.




Tig Notaro

Tig Notaro is an American stand-up comedian, writer, radio contributor, and actress. Her acclaimed album, Live was nominated in 2014 for the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. The album was from a recording of a profound improvised show that had followed a cancer diagnosis by mere days. She later starred in the semi-autobiographical web series One Mississippi (2015-2017). Her memoir, I’m Just a Person, is a New York Times Bestseller. In 2023, Tig and her wife/writing partner Stephanie Allynne sold the screenplay First Ladies to Netflix, with Jennifer Aniston attached to star as the first female President of the United States, and Tig starring as the First Lady.Tig (affectionately named by her brother as a child) was born in Jackson, MS and raised by her single mother in Pass Christian, MS. She she married actress Stephanie Allynne in 2015. Tig enjoys bird-watching with Stephanie, their twin sons, and cat, Fluff, at home in Los Angeles.

Show Notes

Comedian Tig Notaro announced her cancer diagnosis at what became a legendary stand-up set in 2012. Watch the documentary, Tig on Netflix and follow her search for humor amid devastating news.

Amazon Prime and Tig created, One Mississippi, which is a dark comedy, loosely inspired by Tig Notaro’s life, One Mississippi follows Tig as she navigates a complex re-entry into her childhood hometown in Mississippi, to deal with the unexpected death of her much loved mother.  Reeling from her own recently declining health, Tig struggles to find her footing with the loss of the one person who actually understood her.

Read Tig’s new book, I’m Just a Person.

Tig stars in the new Netflix movie, Your Place or Mine, a story of when best friends and total opposites Debbie and Peter swap homes for a week, they get a peek into each other’s lives that could open the door to love.

Learn more about the disease that Tig got called C. Diff or Clostridioides difficile.

Do you need to get a mammogram or other kinds of cancer screening? Learn what the Cancer Society recommends about screenings that could save your life.

Do you have a hilarious grave-related story? We want to hear it call and leave us a voicemail at 919-322-8731.

The blessing at the end of this podcast is “for the life you didn’t choose” can be found on page 188 in the book The Lives We Actually Have. You can get a copy here.

Tig Notaro is so amazingly accomplished and always working on a new project. Check out Tig’s webpage to learn more about all the incredible works of Tig!



Discussion Questions

1. Do you ever feel like you are in the club of the luckiest unlucky people? You know that feeling like if something terrible could happen will happen? That it’ll probably happen to us? Share with the group how you got initiated into this club.

2. There is a woman in the Bible whose laughter gets her in a little bit of trouble. In Sarah’s story (Genesis 18:1-15), God promises her a son. Sarah responds by laughing because she is so old (like seriously in her 90’s). God responds, “Is there anything too wonderful for God?”(Genesis 18:14) Perhaps, Sarah thought the idea was ridiculous, or perhaps she was afraid of hoping for something so impossible. Fast forward and Sarah chuckles again (Genesis 5-7). This time she is rejoicing at the ridiculous miracle of her baby boy. Sometimes life can seem absurd, scary, and unlucky. And sometimes life can be beautiful, wonderful, and full of joy. Can you think of a time you responded to bad news or good news with laughter? What could your laughter be teaching you today? How can you see little glimpses of God in all these instances?

3. Laughter can bring a strange kind of comfort and perspective to the lives we are actually living. When we can find the humor in our ridiculous relatives or graveside humor we somehow find beauty and hope in our unlucky situations. How can you find the humor and beauty in your actual life and limitations today?


Kate Bowler: Oh, hello. My name is Kate Bowler, and this is Everything Happens. Do you have that person that you can really, really be yourself around? Like, I mean your full self. You’re not buttoned up or have-it-all-together version. The one where you can come in hot, unfiltered, crying your face off, kind of honest or maybe even just unbelievably irritable. I have this best friend that I’ve known since we met in judo class when we were about ten years old, and her name is Chelsea, and I was not entirely the most charming judo partner in our elementary school years. But she’s been the one that I’ve learned to be a human with. She’s the one where in high school we could go through every ridiculous breakup and mark it with made up rituals that we created on the spot. She is the person that saw all the wreckage of my chemotherapy with unvarnished love and horror for me. She’s the person where no detail needs to be spared. It’s the strangest feeling, having pushed past just that little self-protective barrier that says, “Oh maybe this will make you look bad.” Just being able to say it. She lets me be angry. She lets me be petty. She tells me when I’m wrong and she trusts even my ridiculous efforts at living into a person I am not yet. She’s my girl. So God bless the Chelsea’s of this world. But there’s something about practicing that kind of unfiltered, unvarnished honesty that really feels like love. And I think that’s maybe why I love comedians so much. They have this ability to practice telling the truth in ways that teach me. Something about how to live a little less scripted, a little more wide-awake to reality. Things as they really are. So today, I thought we might invite one of my favorite comedians to the show to talk about her life of unsparing honesty. Tig Notaro is fantastic, full stop and scrappy and absurdly funny and has such a dry wit that during every long pause in this interview, I suspect you’ll wonder if I’m impaling myself. Time will tell. Tig is a standup comedian and writer and podcast host and actress. Her comedy specials have been nominated for Grammys and Emmys as well they should. She has acted in movies like the one on Netflix, Your Place or Mine, which I loved. Or shows like One Mississippi, her semi-autobiographical, gloriously dark comedy TV show on Amazon, where she plays, well, herself. And she is also the author of a wonderfully honest memoir called I’m Just A Person. Tig, welcome to my dream. It’s happening right now. You’re in it.

Tig Notaro: Thank you for having me. Umm, I can’t believe your dream is so easy to process and understand.

Kate: But we’re also in a swimming pool, and then we’re in the sky.

Tig: Okay. Now it all makes more sense because it makes less sense.

Kate: Yeah, that’s right.

Tig: Well, the pope would have to be there.

Kate: That’s right. Yes. On his own plane. You’re so loving in the way you describe your mom as like this…The impression I got was like wild and loving and charismatic and unpredictable, or maybe entirely predictable in being able to sort of zig zag.

Tig: Predict that you can’t predict. Yeah.

Kate: Yeah. And that sometimes, you know, some people get the mom that’s like unbelievably responsible and always buys the right size of Ziploc bag.

Tig: Oh my God, that is not me.

Kate: And then other people get the mom where they’re like, “All right, do your best. We’re all in this together.” But like, you’re on your own.

Tig: Yeah. Yeah, I remember. Just whether it was people actually having mothers that had freshly baked cookies when they came home or talking about that kind of mother. If my mother did that, it would be solely as a joke. If I walked in the house and she had cookies baked, that would be the only reason would be to make me laugh, the way you’re laughing right now. Like, what are you doing? What is happening?

Kate: You look In the oven, it’s actually an air freshener marked “baked cookies.” Like a real estate agent?

Tig: Exactly.

Kate: I don’t think my parents really had any idea who I was. At one point, they asked if I wanted to join the Canadian military. And like, I think already in this very limited relationship, you can tell I’m a a gentle creature who’s probably an easy cry. And then they thought maybe I would work on a boat … never been on a boat. But there’s always a sense where we’re like a mystery to ourselves and the people who are supposed to raise us. But I wonder what you imagined. What career or life did you imagine for yourself already when you were a kid?

Tig: Well, it’s really funny that you mentioned the military and being on a boat because I was so lost and confused when I was a kid and nothing that was surrounding me was really making sense. I was like hmm, college and marriage and any direction people are going off in. I remember thinking, well, maybe I’ll join the army.

Kate: That will decide for me. All those years of my life.

Tig: Yeah. I just learn some skills because I truly was like, I really didn’t know what to do with myself. And then I also read about those big fishing boats in Alaska where you go away and, and you fish. For months and years.

Kate: Yeah, that’s pretty much what you do when you’re on the flotilla.

Tig: Yeah. You just fish.

Kate: You become a naturalist.

Tig: Right. So those were the things that I thought maybe I’ll do. Maybe I’ll do those things.

Kate: I always admired people who either had it chosen for them or they had some kind of internal story about what they were going to do. But it sounds like, well, your stories of school. School not really being your thing, were… Tell me about that season of your life.

Tig: Oh, my gosh. Having been from Mississippi and Texas and any struggles that I had failing or dropping out, a lot of people love to immediately go to, oh, “Well, it was the South” or “It was Texas” and I always say, “Oh, my gosh, my teachers cared so much about me.” I was definitely a real problem. And I was up to stuff and I was not in school and I was smoking and I was making jokes. But I give 1,000,000% credit to those teachers that you could see they were so frustrated. So frustrated. In fact, I’m still very close with my vice principal because I was in trouble all the time. I just I couldn’t stand school. I just I didn’t like it. It one more thing. I think I had a lot going on at home. I think I also didn’t know I was gay. I just was confused. And I also had that real split in my house of my stepfather, who brought a lot of structure, but also he worked a lot. And then my mother wasn’t great at keeping the structure going when he wasn’t around. It just all went out the window. And so it was hard. It’s like, who am I listening to here and what are we doing? Because my stepfather’s laying down the the rules and the law. And then my mother like, “Oh, you know, none of that.”

Kate: How old were you when you dropped out? When you got up and walked out and were like “You can’t keep me here.”

Tig: I mean, it was truly the most liberating moment where I was like, “Oh, my God, I could just get up and walk out of here.” It was so exciting. I always joke that I was like in my forties because I failed so many grades that I remember looking around in class one day and I saw this girl that was like three years younger than me, that lived on my street, that was in my class. So I was like, I got to get out of here. This is humiliating. And so I think I was probably like 17 or something. It wasn’t like I was like smoking and like, hit the road at like nine. And I don’t think I am a stupid person, but a lot of times I truly didn’t understand. I didn’t get it. I don’t know what to tell you. And then people like to say, “Oh, it’s that you were so smart. It was that you were so.” And I’m like, No, no, no, no, no, no. I appreciate what you’re trying to do. I didn’t understand.

Kate: You’re like, don’t you dare rescue me!

Tig: No, I flat out did not know how to multiply X to the second power times P or whatever it is. Like, I don’t know, I can’t follow it. I can’t follow it. I never made it out of basic math.

Kate: Initially you worked in the music industry and I wondered what drew you then to comedy?

Tig: Well, I mean, comedy was in my bones my whole life, and I didn’t realize I was from a family of true characters until I moved away from home. And I would bring girlfriends and friends home and they would be like, “So you don’t see that this person is not …?” And when I was about 19 or so, I started to think, oh, I guess, you know, you’re raised around people that you’re used to and you just don’t realize these are actual storybook characters. And so there’s a lot of comedy there. You know, I was just talking … I don’t know who I was talking to about this, it might have just been my wife. But my stepfather passed away. He ended up actually dying of this disease that I had ten years ago called “C. diff.” And he contracted it and he died. And it was crazy because I took him off life support ten years to the day after I took my mother off life support. After this happened (I really think it was Stephanie), when people say, what is so funny about the South and what is it about the Deep South or Mississippi and all these people that come from these parts and storytellers? And I’m always like, I don’t know what it is, but when we were just in Mississippi for his funeral, this is the perfect example of I don’t know what to tell you. I can’t pinpoint it to anything. But what I can tell you is the story I’m about to tell you would never happen at in Stephanie’s family. This would never happen.

Kate: Other people’s lives don’t have wild comedic outputs.

Tig: We were at my stepfather’s funeral. We’re at the graveyard. My family is sitting around, and I said to the priest, you know, “How how should this go?” And he said, you know, “It’s very open. However you want to however you want to do this.” And my brother said, “I’m just going to say a few things.” And I said, “Okay, well, why don’t you go first? Then I’ll go. And then the priest can just wrap it up.” And my brother walks up. You know, we’re right there in the graveyard. And he walks up to talk and there’s this area with the green Astroturf over the grave. And he fell into the grave. He sure did.

Kate: Wait! He stepped on it and he thought it was grass?

Tig: No, he knew that that that there was a hole there, but they forgot to put plywood over it. And my brother goes in the grave. And everybody is like, “Oh God!” And then he’s like, “I’m okay!” He’s pulling himself out of the grave. And and then he gets out.

Kat: He’s pulling himself out of the grave. Yes. Like he’s like in gym class, just desperate.

Tig: Yeah. And it’s like the night of the living dead, like crawling out of the grave, dusting dirt and mud off of his suit. And then we’re laughing and in shock. And I was sitting there thinking, oh, my gosh, this must happen all the time. And then a second later, I was like, of course, this doesn’t happen all the time! And it’s so frustrating that my stepfather and my mother didn’t get to see that. And Stephanie’s like, “But they saw it. They were there.” And it’s whatever your beliefs are. I wanted them in the flesh, seeing my brother fall into that grave, because that was the ultimate unbelievable punch line to everything! To my brother’s relationship with my stepfather. My stepfather would be choking, laughing for an eternity, if he isn’t already. I mean, it’s just unbelievable. And people like, “What is it about the South? What is so funny and what is it with these characters and these situations and these stories?” I’m like, “I don’t know, but…”

Kate: They present themselves to me. I don’t need to seek it out.

Tig; In the same graveyard, my cousin, who’s the mayor, his wife passed away. Some old woman in the town died after my cousin’s wife died. And Stephanie overheard my cousin talking about. “Well, blah, blah. Well, you know, we have to. Ethel’s buried next to Beverly.” And so this and that. And Stephanie said. “Who? I’m sorry. Who is Ethel?” And he said, “Oh, Stephanie, there’s an elderly woman in town. She was accidentally buried in my plot.”

Kate: Oh no.

Tig: And so, it’s a whole situation. And that now they’ve offered our family a new plot that’s much nicer because Ethel’s family do not want to have her dug up. And so we’re going to dig up Beverly and move her across the graveyard.

Kate: Yeah. Yeah. Because accidental burials happen every day.

Tig: How on earth? But that’s the thing! Where does the comedy come from and what? Where? I don’t know.

Kate: Life.

Tig: Yeah. Yeah. But also, there’s stuff going on down South, I think. I don’t know what it is. I used to hear that it’s in the water, and now I believe it, because I don’t know how else to explain.

Kate: See, the way you describe that? It does. I do really feel that way about. I’m from Manitoba. And it is just a world of flat plains and deadpan humor. So when the electricity goes out and it’s -40 and I call my parents to see if they’re okay and I’m not getting a reply, and then I start. So I’m calling and then I’m texting, “Dad. I heard the power went out.” And then I just I get the reply. “No one’s over here in an iron lung, sweetie.” That’s it. The only update I’m going to get is really a joke about tuberculosis from the 1950s that he does not need the assistance of an iron lung. And I think. Yeah. In the darkness. In the darkness, beautiful, terrible comedy flourishes.

Tig: Yeah, absolutely.

Kate: I do think that there are some places that are funnier than others, and I do believe that Manitoba is one of them.

Tig: Might it might be neck and neck with southern Mississippi.

Kate: One of the things that this community really has in common is that we all understand the before and after feeling when, ‘before life’ had like a certain coherence to it. And then there’s some kind of undoing where you, like, pull a thread and then everything comes undone. And you’re llike very dramatic and rapid descent with symptoms that you tried to treat with antibiotics and that it became this absolutely rare and, I had not heard of it before, disease. Would you mind telling me about C. diff? And that season of your life?

Tig: Oh, yeah, sure. It was a four month period of time that everything happened. And essentially I had pneumonia. I thought I just had a cold and I couldn’t shake it, and I didn’t know what was going on. And I just not somebody that … I don’t I don’t really even take naps, you know? And I just I could not shake this. And so I went to Urgent Care and they gave me antibiotics and then my symptoms just got worse and worse and worse. And I was in horrific pain. I ended up collapsing one day and was taken to the emergency room, and that’s when they admitted me. And I remember the doctor saying to my girlfriend at the time, “We’re going to test her for this thing,” because they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. We’re going to test her for this thing. It’s called C. diff. We hope it’s not that. Basically what it is, C diff is, you know, the bacteria in your gut. There’s so many millions of types of bacteria in there and C diff is just one type of bacteria and they all work right when they’re all together and doing their thing. But what happened was when I had pneumonia, the antibiotics they gave me cleared out my gut. And C. diff is the bacteria that was left to just kind of grow on its own, and that just ends up eating you alive. And so it’s a superbug that’s very difficult to contain or kill. And so it can kind of go either way. You can recover if your body responds to the medication or whatever, you are very, very lucky. And if not, like I said, my stepfather ended up dying of it recently. And so when I had C. Diff, I remember them saying, “Gosh, it’s so crazy that you have this because typically it’s the very young or the very old or the very sickly that have C diff and you are none of those things.” Meanwhile, I was lying in the hospital with invasive cancer and nobody even knew that. And so that was the other element. So I essentially had three potentially deadly diseases simultaneously. I had pneumonia, C. diff, and cancer. And so I finally got out of the hospital and I think I was in there for a week and a half. And and then when I got out, my mothe tripped and hit her head an was not conscious and I had to fly home and take her off life support, which was obviously very devastating. And then she never regained consciousness. And then soon after that, my girlfriend and I split up. We had only been together about six months. We had only been together six months and during our entire relationship it was just me in hospital beds, deathly ill, and my mother dying and me crying. And we were not a match, but we are such good friends and I adore her and she actually saved my life. So and that’s because she found a nutritionist to help me when I had C. diff because the the ship was not turning around after the hospitalization and after the treatment that I was having, my body just wasn’t responding.

Kate: Your description of just going down weight and down weight and down weight and the fear of that.

Tig: I mean, I was so used to my whole life for 40 years. You get you have a cold or, you know, a stomach ache or a headache. You take Advil or Tylenol.

Kate: Isn’t this what medication is for? I follow the rules and then I’m okay and.

Tig: And fixes you. And this was not being fixed and it was very terrifying. And my girlfriend at the time, she found this woman that got me on this very specific diet that she concocted that saved my life. And then, like I said, I took my mother off life support. And then right after that, I was diagnosed with cancer. And that’s because my girlfriend, the same one, said, you have to go and get this checked out, because I did not believe that I could have cancer. And it’s embarrassing and horrifying to think of now because I would tease my girlfriend, “Like, oh, I have cancer. Ow.” And she’d say, “It’s not funny. You have to go.” But I was like, “I don’t have cancer. I’m 40.”

Kate: Totally. Totally. My friend used to always joke every time we had a minor cold that he was living his pre-cancer life. And we would laugh and laugh. And then I got stage four cancer, and he was like, “I’m so sorry.” I’m like, “No, no. We were both delusional.” We both imagined ourselves as part of this hilarious world in which things kind have an order to things.

Tig: Andd people are certain. They’re like, “It’s not me.”

Kate: No, it’s someone else.

Tig: I used to have a podcast, an old podcast, and I would say to people all the time, “If you’re listening, go get yourself checked out.” Because truly you are listening, thinking the same thing. It couldn’t be me. It’s not me. It’s somebody else.

Kate: It’s almost like you get handed this citizenship to this previously foreign country, in which you are now apparently a fluent speaker. And you don’t know if you ever get to move back. And I found that that season where I realized that I was like a sick person, that I was in so many ways, like a very “unlucky” person. But then then weirdly, it’s also at least was for me, like a time of like crystalline clarity of things where you take stock. You’re like, “Okay then. Here’s how I want to practice living with uncertainty.” And for me, it was a lot about like, okay, I got a two-year-old. So like, what kind of mom do I want to be? Like, how do I do all this? How do I try to cram this life? Usually I kind of got disciplined into, like, “scan intervals.” And even now, I can crush a three-month window. Like 100 days, done. Moving backwards. But it also sounds like thinking about the future was really important to you as you’re like, Okay, do I want to be a mom? What do I want my future to be like?

Tig: Yeah. You know, everybody has their idea of how life is going to go. Where are you going to go to college, where you’re going to live, how much money you’re going to make, what’s your job going to be? Your spouse will be like this and you’ll have this many children and then you’ll retire this age and you’ll live here and you’ll and then you’ll die peacefully in your sleep when you’re 95. And the chances of everyone having that? So I was on this trajectory in my head where I thought, okay, well, when I’m 40, I will have saved X amount of money and then I will be able to have a child and I will have been able to get a lot of my need to do stand-up and travel and tour out of my system. And I didn’t have a lot of faith in my ability to keep a relationship going. And so I just thought it’s going to be me and this kid and I’ll be 40 and we’ll do this together. And then, oops, I have three deadly illnesses. My mother just died and I’m single again and I’m in and out of hospitals. And so, I just, you know … Adoption is great. People will say, “You want a kid? Why don’t you adopt? You should adopt.” It’s like I’m all for it. But you know what? When you’re filling out applications and you say, I have cancer, I’m a high school dropout. I’m gay. I’m not a religious person. Nobody’s, like, eagerly throwing their baby at you. You know what I mean? But I mean, really, it’s like having my own baby and then trying to adopt?. Anyway, so I did. Once I came through everything, I did try to have a child through IVF.

Kate: Chronic uncertainty is so much double work. I don’t know how people can play 20 chess games, but, you know, there’s like a couple champions and they just kind of, like, constantly move between all the games and then know exactly where they are when they come back. I always feel like … with hope that big and hope that is so expensive. It’s just so it’s so emotional to be like, okay, but what my heart really, really wants is this kid and like and also I sort of spent my whole life working at getting good at this one thing that I happen now to be good at and that also sort of thing to do this, this thing that I’m good at and also maybe I would like to love somebody in a way in which I see them regularly, you know, I mean, there’s just so many kinds of like games to play at the same time. How did you practice lliving with that much uncertainty? Especially in that kind of first stretch when you’re like, okay, I’m someone who thinks in terms of cancer odds?

Tig: I honestly don’t know. I, I really tell people, as crazy as it is, I felt like such an incredible human being, when I would get up out of bed and brush my teeth. I was like, “Okay, I did that.” And also, I think losing my mother while I had these potentially deadly illnesses, I felt very, very scared. And I don’t know. I really don’t know. I think I just put my head down and pushed through and didn’t have a strategy. I didn’t know what was happening. I, I felt like as you and so many other people have said, you feel like everything is just yanked out from underneath you There’s no safety net. I think it’s hard to not be scarred by that and even when I’m, you know, not just my own bathroom getting out of the shower or just being on tour. I’m also scared that I’m going to fall and hit my head. I’m like, I don’t know to … I don’t know. I don’t know.

Kate: Yeah, I hear that. It’s almost like the. Because I do think getting back up again, you know, mentally is very different than having just tried to will yourself into it the first time. But like when you’ve kind of hit every branch on the way down and you kind of know what it’s like, we’re like, oh, I know what it’s like to lose somebody I love, or I know what it’s like to … I do think it leaves this kind of residue where aI find that I can’t. I need friends to help me manage fear around what might happen, because everything does sort of seem pausible in a way that it wouldn’t have been before.

Tig: I went from being like, there’s no way I have cancer to now, I’m like, I move so slowly when I get out of the shower just because I want to live. I don’t carelessly get out of the shower and just grab a towel. You should see me. And I hope you don’t! But I’m very cautious when I’m stepping out of the shower. But yeah, I think, you know, relying on friends and family and I’ve had the luxury of strangers that have supported me. And then I have these little glimpses of “Yeah. I’m good.” I’m not but…

Kate: It’s like a car almost revving all the time.

Tig: Yeah.

Kate: I wonder if one of the things that also served you well was that you practiced being honest pretty quickly. I’m thinking of you preparing to do a part of your set about cancer and just like the way you describe, like, “how do I tell this so that the first reaction isn’t pity?” So it still, like, opens the door? I mean, like, how do kick open the door wide enough for it to be funny and true and poignant?

Tig: Yeah.

Kate: Like, what did you decide to say at the very beginning? I’m trying to remember.

Tig: “Hello. Good evening. I have cancer.”

Kate: And just watching it land.

Tig: Yeah, you know, speaking of showers, I was in the shower before my show and I was thinking, okay, I want to talk about what I’m going through because I am a comedian and this is what I do, and this show is already booked. So I went ahead and kept the show, but I didn’t know how to open the show and I didn’t know what to say because I knew I wanted to get into things that were not typical topics for me especially. And while I was in the shower, I thought, Oh. It could be funny. It just. This thought ran through my head to open the show, the first thing when I came out to say, “Hello. Good evening. I have cancer. How’s everyone doing? I have cancer.” Yeah. That will shake up the room a little.

Kate: I like that so much. It’s so uncomfortable. “How’s everyone else doing?”

Tig: Yeah. Have cancer. Are you guys having fun tonight? I was just diagnosed with cancer. Is everyone having a good time? Any birthdays tonight? I don’t know. Everything teed up perfectly. The audience got it. They were laughing, and then it allowed me to get into the reality of me saying I actually do have cancer. I just found that out. And I wanted to do this show because I love comedy so much. And I know I’m about to go on a ride that I don’t know… I just buried my mother… I don’t know. I just got out of the hospital for a different disease. I don’t know how this is going to go, but I love doing comedy. I couldn’t come up here and essentially lie and do my old jokes because I had too much going on in my head in my life. And I just thought, I want to take this risk and see if I can connect with somebody right now, because I certainly did feel alone and isolated and scared. And, you know, I think, doing comedy as long as I did it, I am pretty comfortable in a comedy club and and the audience … It was the exact group of people that were supposed to be there that night because they laughed so hard. And then there were pockets of people that were also emotional. I could see people crying. I could see people stunned. I could see it was just really something. And every now and then, when I’m out and about in life, I’ll come across somebody and they’re like (and it’s happened maybe five times) where they’re like, “I was at that show. I was at that show.”

Kate: Like, I was a witness!

Tig: But I immediately feel a connection to them.

Kate: Yes.

Tig: I really do. And I feel thankful for nearly 300 people that were in that room.

Kate: I think people want to come alongside the sufferer. I think it’s just hard, especially when every problem always feels kind of inaccessible, right, where you’re like, wait! Because I think maybe the temptation is to be like, catch me up on the details. Yeah. The details are the worst, but what I really want to know is, like, keeping pace beside me. I don’t necessarily need the report card.

TIg: Yeah, it feels incredible.

Kate: Yeah. It sounds too like all that happened after was a lot of vulnerability from you that also made you very good at loving somebody new. Tell me about Stephanie. Your love sounds like it has an like an “earned ease” to it.

Tig: Yeah, well, it’s funny because I said to her recently I was like, “99% of the time, you are my favorite person in the world. And then 1% of the time, I cannot stand you!

Kate: Menacing whisper.

Tig: And she was like, “That’s how I feel about you.” But, yeah, we were actually working on this little independent film called In a World, and we played love interests in this film, and that was when I had three different illnesses at the same time. And I was lying down between takes and I didn’t know I didn’t know what was wrong with me. And so we exchanged numbers and we started texting and that was the end of that.

Kate: And that was the rest of my life.

Tig: And and now we’re married and we have our two kids and we also work creatively together. And and we do make each other laugh so hard, many times a day. Because we’re both public figures, there are a lot of like people saying like, “oh, relationship goals” or this and that. And listen, we have an incredible life. But like everything else. It’s always something. It’s always up and down. But there is no one that I want my ups and downs with more than Stephanie, you know? And that’s with life and health and our relationship and our kids. I want that with her. And I have it with her. And and I always I always say I’m the luckiest unlucky person that that you can meet.

Kate: Take that as the absolute perfect description of all of the aspirations of this community … is to be desperately lucky in our unluckyness. And I’m grateful we had this conversation. You are a complete delight.

Tig: Well, thank you. Same.

Kate: I feel like our little listening community could be called the “luckiest unluckies.” You know that feeling like if something terrible could happen will happen? That it’ll probably happen to us? Every rare disease, every accident, every freak side effect, every lightning strike, every bureaucratic nightmare. We will win the lottery of terrible. But I think that’s why I love us so much. You are my people, and we really understand what it feels like to be so unlucky, and also that we keep our eyes wide open for the lovely and the beautiful and the hopeful along the way. Because what other choice do we have but to live fully in the face of our actual lives and all of our actual limitations? So, my dears, may we learn to live wide awake to life as it is. In all of its fear and joy and ridiculousness and hysterical relatives we really couldn’t make up if we tried. So here’s a blessing for all of my fellow unluckies. It’s for the life you didn’t choose from. Our new Book of Blessings. It’s a book called The Lives We Actually Have. Here goes. Blessed are you when the shock subsides. When vaguely you see a line appear that divides before and after. You didn’t draw it, you can barely even make it out. But as surely as minutes add up to hours and days, here you are forced into a story you never would have written. Blessed are you in the tender place of wonder and dread, wondering how to be whole when dreams have disappeared and part of you with them. Where mastery, control, determination, bootstrapping and grit are consigned to the realm of before, where most of the world lives in the fever dream that promises infinite choices, unlimited progress, best life now. Here we are in the after, shouting loudly, Is there anybody here? And we hear the echo, the shuffle of feet, the murmur of others asking the same question together in the knowledge that we are far beyond what we know. Show us a glimmer of possibility in this new constraint, that small truths will be given back to us. We are held. We are safe. We are loved. We are loved. We are loved. And best of all, we are never alone. Bless you, my dears. Hey, and before I go, if you too have a graveyard funeral story, that is the best kind of dark humor, I must hear it. If you have a story like that, call me. Leave us a voicemail. We must know. Call us at 919-322-8731. This is our last episode of Season Ten of the Everything Happens podcast. And oh my gosh, what a great season it’s been. But do not fret. We will be back in the fall with a whole lineup of wonderful new conversations. We are working on them right now and in the meantime we have some fun things headed your way in your inbox every week. I have a really amazing team and they have been working so hard to pull together some lovely resources around themes like grief, caregiving, empathy that we cannot wait to share with you, including free downloads of the blessings you all love so much. So just to make sure that you’re signed up to get it, go to A huge shoutout deserves to go to my incredible team for making this season really beautiful and every episode possible, from scheduling to producing to transcribing to writing, to discussion questions to every single email response that comes in from listeners that we send out. My lovelies amplify this work in every way. This is, of course, the great love of my life, Jessica Ritchie. Harriet Putman, Gwen Heginbotham, Brenda Thompson, Hope Anderson, Keith Weston and the Burt Media Group. And thank you to our sponsors. We have unbelievable sponsors who want to write this show. Lilly Endowment. The Duke Endowment. Duke Divinity School. We are officially nothing without you. Thank you. And to my absolutely gorgeous listeners, we love you. Thank you for trusting us with your stories, with your time. We love making this for you. And it would mean so much to us if you left us a review on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. We can’t wait to hear what you think and who you want to hear from next in the next season. We’ll talk soon. And in the meantime, find me online @Katecbowler. This has been Everything Happens with me, Kate Bowler.

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