"I would say I do one every other month for some sort of charity," Notaro says. "Sometimes it's twice a month. Every show I do, I'm hoping to do my best possible show and know that it's potentially going to make them feel better, but doing a benefit or a charity, it takes it to a completely different level. A lot of times, you're meeting face to face with people who are in need, and they are always very thankful for the help. It feels nice."
The Jackson, Mississippi native also knows how it feels to go through such a harrowing, painful and scary moment. After spending years honing material that earned praise from the likes of Ellen DeGeneres and making her name as an actress and comedian, she suffered a near-fatal bout with a rare infection called C-diff and later was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in 2012.
Instead of shying away from the subject when she returned to the stage three days after her diagnosis, she weaved her experiences into her stand-up act, starting with a legendary set at L.A.'s Largo Theater followed by a best-selling memoir, a unique tour that served as the basis for a Showtime documentary in which she performed in her fans' homes and a critically applauded HBO stand-up special three years later called Boyish Girl Interrupted in which she performed part of her set topless following a double mastectomy.
Since then, she's married to her wife, Stephanie Allynne, who gave birth to their twin sons, and continued to perform and record a number of comedy specials, including her latest for Netflix called Happy to Be Here. She's also acted in roles on shows like Transparent and Fresh Off the Boat and developed her own dramatic comedy for Amazon about her home state called One Mississippi, which the streaming network decided to end after two seasons despite its critical acclaim.
"We definitely could have continued writing and done more seasons, but I felt like for the material that we put out there we did exactly what we wanted to do," Notaro says. "I felt like I was fine with that chapter being closed and moving onto other projects. I certainly loved the show but I'm also OK with the ending."
Amazon may have closed the door on the series, but it's given her some more unique opportunities to perform. Notaro says she's "developing a bunch of projects" with her wife that she'll soon be able to announce.
"I love and prefer to work together with her," she says. "So we're really happy to be doing our own thing together."
She also joined the cast of the film Instant Family alongside Mark
The Star Trek role that she couldn't discuss yet came about because the director Alex Kurtzman used to work with her when the two were making their showbiz start as assistants on the set of the TV shows Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess in the '90s.
"I was offered the role and said [yes] right away without reading the script and when I read the script, I said, 'A million times yes,'" Notaro says. "Hopefully, the Star Trek universe will accept me. If not, too bad. I've never imagined myself in this kind of world. It's funny because the way Alex and I know each other. Now we're meeting up in a whole different world of crazy fandom."
No matter where her career takes her, Notaro says she'll always do stand-up.
"It's always been doing the stand-up, and I enjoy it every step of the way," she says. "The one that's coming out on May 22, I've really loved but I was ready to put it to bed and move on because I'd been touring with it for over a year and doing a lot of shows. So now, this is new hour is what I would say is like nothing I've ever done before."
Tickets for the charity show are $62.50.