How Tig Notaro turned tragedy and loss into comedy gold – and found her own happy ending
Credit: Diana Koenigsberg

If comedy is born out of tragedy, Tig Notaro struck gold in 2012.

After nearly dying from a rare infection called C-diff in March, Notaro received word that her mother passed away suddenly from a fall. Shortly thereafter Notaro was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer, underwent a double mastectomy, broke up with a girlfriend and then tried, unsuccessfully, a series of IVF treatments.

Notaro was somehow able to turn it all into material, including her now-famous “Hello, I Have Cancer” stand-up set at L.A.’s Largo Theater, three days after her diagnosis. Notaro refers to 2012 casually as “the year my life fell apart. I still have days of [thinking], ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I made it out of that,’ ” she says.

And made it out, she has. The show led to a hit album, a Showtime documentary and a book deal (her memoir I’m Just a Person is available for purchase June 14). Now, four years later, she is living cancer-free, married to the love of her life, 30-year-old actress and writer Stephanie Allynne – and the couple are expecting twins via a surrogate.

Notaro and Allynne originally met filming Lake Bell‘s 2013 comedy, In a World, then reconnected at L.A.’s UCB theater. Allynne had always dated men, but the two very quickly developed an intense connection.

“Everything about her felt right. I knew I liked her, I knew I cared about her and that sent me into an identity crisis spiral,” says Allynne. “I felt the need to label myself, was I gay? was I bi? Was I still straight? was I ever straight? etc. It took me six months to realize those labels were ridiculous. Once I was able to own my true feelings it was all easy and beautiful. I now don’t believe in the labels.”

For much more on Tig Notaro’s life after cancer, including her upcoming twins, pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

The couple married in 2015 and can’t wait to start on their next adventure together: parenting. “Every morning we wake up saying how excited we are,” Allynne says of their babies on the way, which were conceived with Allynne’s eggs.

“I don’t care about sports, but Stephanie’s family follows the Buffalo Bills, so I can’t wait to be all four of us as a family rooting for the Bills in matching outfits,” says Notaro. “But I think more than anything, I really can’t wait to just learn who these little people are. I can’t wait to just watch them, find out their interests, to put cute clothes on them. I picture them as toddlers running around in our yard.”

Notaro also can’t wait for their kids to make it into her comedy.

“Stephanie and our cat Fluff have made it into my material and it’s the strongest part of my show,” she says. “People are hard on comedians who have kids and start talking about them all the time. They’re like, ‘Ugh, they lost their edge.’ I can’t wait to lose my edge.”