One Mississippi Excels With Brilliant Dark Comedy

One Mississippi Excels With Brilliant Dark Comedy
Courtesy Photo Comedian Tig Notaro stars in One Mississippi, a new comedy-drama based on her own life experiences being diagnosed with cancer.

Courtesy Photo
Comedian Tig Notaro stars in One Mississippi, a new comedy-drama based on her own life experiences being diagnosed with cancer.

Tig Nataro has been making waves in the comedy world for a few years now. Conan O’Brien would frequently give her time to perform her stand-up on his late night show, and after she was diagnosed with cancer and went through treatment, Tig’s comedy took a turn for the revolutionary.

Darkness in comedy is a hard rope to walk. If you get too dark, you risk losing your audience; too light, and you risk losing your original point. Tig walks that tightrope better than any comic I’ve ever seen.

Her battles with cancer, a disease called C-Diff, and the grief that came very suddenly from all her medical battles, have been well chronicled over the last few years. No one had ever seen a comic walk out on stage and give a frank, honest, and hilarious experiential tale of a terrifying fight. And trust me, no matter how calm you are, going through treatment for cancer is a special kind of terrifying.

On top of a Netflix documentary called Tig and a new comedy special on HBO, both of which aired in early to mid 2016, Notaro just released a series on Amazon Prime called One Mississippi — and to put it as simply as possible, holy shit. The term, “dark comedy” barely even scratches the surface, it’s pitch black at an almost constant rate without being suffocating. It’s a brilliant analysis of grief, depression, and illness, much in the same vein as Lady Dynamite, the other strange dark comedy offered up by one of the subscription services recently. They both deal with these real issues from these women’s lives, and they do so hilariously without losing a moment of pathos in the process.

One Mississippi hits you immediately with the kind of jokes it contains and it doesn’t let up for a second. Tig Notaro speaks honestly about all that and more, spouting beautiful and poetically hilarious words to get her point across. She and her wife have a child together and she is happy.

One Mississippi chronicles her journey to get there.

Beginning after her fight against breast cancer,One Mississippi begins with Tig taking a trip to her hometown in order to kill her mother. Prior to the shows beginning, her mother took a bad fall and wound up in a coma from which she would never wake. So to say that Tig Notaro brings us into her world on a rough note is putting it a bit lightly.

What follows is one of the most frank, honest, hilarious, and melancholic takes on life I’ve ever seen grace a screen. Earlier this television season, Netflix released Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite, which, while taking a wackier, somewhat slapstick approach to the subject matter, still has the same vein of reality and areas we aren’t supposed to joke about, like cancer or mental illness, the death of a friend or parent, One Mississippi wastes no time in showing the viewer that this is something different.

Death terrifies us as human beings. Especially if you’re healthy and have never come close to it. It’s the great unknown, the inevitable, inescapable truth of life. Tig Notaro not only faced that reality head on more than once, but instead of giving into the grief and that crushing sense of inevitability, she utilized it and did something revolutionary in her field. It was uncomfortable for some people to hear such frank, sardonic takes on something so serious, but speaking as a survivor, it feels a lot better to laugh about it than take pity or panic.

I hope this show makes the waves it deserves and sticks around for a while. At only six episodes for the first season, it feels like we were teased with just a small part of an incredible story. Tig knocked it out of the park for the umpteenth time in a row, but One Mississippi stands above the others as something truly wonderful.

One Mississippi’s first season is streaming in its entirety on Amazon Prime.

Categories: Commentary