Tig Notaro Tried to Warn Us About Louis C.K. Now, She’s ‘Happy to Move On’ From Him.
The cancelation of “One Mississippi” came with a silver lining for comedian Tig Notaro: She would never have to think about Louis C.K. again.
Before the whole world knew what Louis C.K. was up to behind closed doors, Tig Notaro tried to warn us.
A storyline from the second season of her Amazon series One Mississippi featured a skeevy boss masturbating in front of a female employee against her will. This was months before The New York Times published its November 2017 exposé featuring the accounts of five women who said Louis C.K. had done the same thing to them.
When I asked Notaro in August of that year about what were then just rumors surrounding the man whose name still appeared as an executive producer on her show—despite her strong insistence that he had “never been involved” in the project—Notaro took a long pause before answering carefully.
“I think it’s important to take care of that, to handle that, because it’s serious to be assaulted,” she said. “It’s serious to be harassed. It’s serious, it’s serious, it’s serious.”
That second season of One Mississippi ended up being its last after Amazon unceremoniously canceled it along with Joey Soloway’s similarly beloved feminist comedy I Love Dick. The decision came with some disappointment for Notaro, but also a healthy dose of relief.
“There was also a part of me that felt like there was an element of negativity that was tied to the show through a particular producer,” Notaro tells me on this week’s episode of The Last Laugh podcast, reluctant to even say the comedian’s name out loud. “A part of me was excited to just get the word that OK, it’s been canceled and be like, all right, let’s shut that chapter, I’m ready to move on in life.”
Whenever she would talk about the show, Notaro says it was like Louis C.K. was “in the room,” especially since his name appeared in the credits for every episode. “So yeah, I’m happy to move on from that,” she says.
It’s a similar predicament that has plagued previous Last Laugh guest Pamela Adlon, who co-created her FX show Better Things with Louis C.K. His name still appears on every episode of that show despite the fact that he has had no involvement in it since FX officially severed ties with him in 2017. Adlon told me she’s still “proud” of the work she did with him on both Louie and Better Things, but has also called the revelations about his behavior “devastating.”
Since Notaro recently launched an advice podcast called Don’t Ask Tig, I ask her during our conversation about the best career advice she ever received.
“I remember Sarah Silverman telling me years ago that it’s good, as a stand-up, to keep options open to broaden your horizons,” she says, “because sometimes the road gets kind of narrow when you’re just doing stand-up.” Notaro adds that by trying out every avenue of comedy, “I’ve found what I don’t want to do, which is just as important as finding what I want to do. It makes what I want to do even more important and more fun.”
What Notaro says she learned over the course of making One Mississippi was that she didn’t love “wearing all hats at once” when it came to showrunning and starring in her own show.
“I would not want to carry a show by myself again,” she says. Whereas she was in nearly every scene of the first season, she started to take a step back in season two in order to allow other characters on the show to take up more of the real estate on screen.
“I never have really identified with being an actor,” she says, “even though I’ve enjoyed the acting gigs that I’ve gotten, including One Mississippi and now Star Trek. But with the second season of One Mississippi, I brought up to the producers that I didn’t want it to be so focused on me anymore. I felt like there was enough where you can move away from me. And I wouldn’t have to be in every scene. I was still the star of the show, but it does not interest me to carry a show like that in that way.”
That’s not to say she wasn’t disappointed when she got the news that it was ending.
“I still wanted the show,” she says. “I wanted to do the show and we had a million storylines for season three. You know, if some crazy world happened where Amazon or FX was like, ‘We gotta bring back this show, reboot One Mississippi,’ I would happily do it and I would have a million things to say. And I also felt like where we ended on season two was—even though it wasn’t the end of the show—it felt like a reasonable place to end if this must be canceled.”
If the show does come back on some other network, Notaro predicts that Louis C.K.’s name will no longer appear in the credits.
“Let’s say the craziest thing in the world happens and somebody brings One Mississippi back,” she says, “I bet it would come back without that name on it.”
Next week on The Last Laugh podcast: Monty Python co-founder John Cleese