Stand up comedians Tig Notaro and Kenny Zimlinghaus (aka Kenny Z) have very different expectations of Charleston. Notaro, best known for her role as tough gay cop Officer Tig on The Sarah Silverman Program, imagines “being picked up from the airport and taken from show to show in a horse and carriage.” Otherwise she’ll be disappointed. Festival veteran Kenny Z just expects locals to be “blonder” than his regular New York audiences.
“I’m always careful when I come to Charleston,” he says, “because I’ve caught myself too many times staring too long at what I thought was a hot blonde long-haired girl only to find out it was a surfer guy… still hot though.”
Tig Notaro is a non-blonde Comedy Central darling with a solo half-hour special and guest appearances on Dog Bites Man and Premium Blend. She’s also performed on Last Comic Standing, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Last Call with Carson Daily, Comics Unleashed, and Showtime’s Live Nude Comedy! The Jackson, Mississippi native’s routines are part languorous subtlety, part acid wit. Time Out Chicago once described her as “a Steven Wright and Bebe Neuwirth love child.”
With deadpan delivery, Notaro’s routines often include comments on her childhood, school years, and real-life encounters with strange people in public places. Her best known bits include “little titties,” inspired by a crude comment made by a passerby, and “No Moleste,” riffing on the leering lobos at a Mexican restaurant.
Notaro says that comedian Todd Barry encouraged her to come to Charleston. “I don’t typically trust Todd, so I’m not sure why I listened to him this time.” But she’s looking forward to finding out what our comedians are like. “I think the only comedian I know from those parts would be Aziz Ansari,” she says. “I can’t imagine he represents the scene. However, I’d be very pleased to find that the area is riddled with young male comedians from India. What a fun surprise.”
In the second half of the Stand Up Showdown, Kenny Z will be trying to get in touch with his feminine side. He’s currently co-hosting SIRIUS-XM’s Cosmo Radio every morning on Channel 111 and XM162. “I talk for four hours every day and I get weirder and weirder,” he says. “I state what I think is true. The things I say don’t fit in, and people laugh at it.”
On his radio show, Z covers “all the things I’ve learned about girls over the past three years,” which he’s looking forward to sharing with Charleston audiences.
Z is a stalwart of the festival. Longtime comedy lovers will remember his Comedy Free with Kenny Z show in what used to be Bar 145 and 96 Wave’s late, lamented Storm & Kenny Radio Show with Stupid Mike.
“Every time I come I try to do everything different,” says the comedian. “I’m always working on stuff, and I use Charleston as a testing ground.” He describes his style as observational funny stuff. “It’s not too offensive, I don’t care to be. Mainly it’s just me, stranger than ever.”