A stand-up comic and writer’s year from hell.
When Notaro received antibiotics for a case of pneumonia, she didn’t know she was embarking on months of health and family disasters. The drugs gave her a difficult and debilitating intestinal disease called C. diff, which caused her to lose more than 20 pounds and experience terrible abdominal pain. In the same time period, she lost her mother to an unexpected home accident. Then, after months of delay, she finally decided to examine the lump in her breast that she’d detected two years earlier, only to be told she had breast cancer in both breasts. At this extremely low point in her life, Notaro walked on stage and delivered brand-new material, opening with lines about her cancer. Once the audience realized she wasn’t joking, she writes, it was then “her job as a comedian to get every silenced, stunned person back to laughing….I made it my mission to yank everyone out of the dark hole by delivering a lighter joke or asking why they were taking this so hard—which caused the laughter that we all needed.” She received a standing ovation, and her career skyrocketed even as she faced a double mastectomy, the ongoing grief of her mother’s passing, and a broken romance. As she unfolds the intimate moments of her personal annus horribilis, Notaro intermingles laugh-out-loud moments from her childhood with her crazy mother and stepfather and sweet romantic times as an adult. Throughout her brief work, the author is frank, at times humorous, and anything but melodramatic. She shows readers the full spectrum of her emotional and physical conditions, her vulnerability, and ultimately her strength as she enters a happier and healthier stage in her life.
Forthright and private moments are revealed as a stand-up comedian uses her gift of creating laughter to overcome personal and physical disasters.