Tig Notaro Launches 'Offbeat' Comedy Label: Exclusive

Bob Chamberlin

Tig Notaro

The star partners with indie Secretly Canadian to promote "not completely mainstream" comedians -- and names it after a man who died laughing.

When comic Tig Notaro gave up booking and promoting obscure local bands during her formative years in Denver, little did she know that she would be circling back to the record ­business two decades later.

The 45-year-old stand-up star and cast member of Amazon's Transparent will helm Bentzen Ball Records, a comedy imprint in partnership with Bloomington, Ind.-based independent label Secretly Canadian, which put out her 2012 Live album. "It's named after a guy named Ole Bentzen who apparently died of a heart attack from laughter while watching A Fish Called Wanda," says Notaro. "It's kind of a good way to go, to laugh at stuff."

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Joking about death is familiar ground for Notaro, who boldly riffed on her battle with breast cancer on Live. With an assist from Louis C.K., the album spent eight weeks atop Billboard's Comedy Albums chart and has sold more than 156,000 copies, according to Secretly Canadian. Now with both a Netflix and Showtime doc, an HBO special (Boyish Girl Interrupted), a book (Tig Notaro: I'm Just a Person, out June 14), a comedy festival and another Amazon series (One Mississippi), the ­multihyphenate announces her first signing: Aparna Nancherla, a comic and writer on Late Night With Seth Myers, whose album arrives in early July.

"I've had so much attention over the years that there's a tendency to get sick of myself," cracks Notaro. "This is such a nice way to redirect the ­interest and passion and get behind what other people are doing. There are so many amazing ­comedians I love out there who are a bit offbeat or not completely ­mainstream, that I think can be with a little exposure."

This article was originally published in the May 14 issue of Billboard.