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Tig Notaro is back on tour, and it’s not the end of the road after all

Tig Notaro, shown in her comedy special "Happy to Be Here."NETFLIX

There is one obvious reason Tig Notaro is calling her new tour “Hello, Again.” The show, which comes to the Chevalier Theatre in Medford on Friday, is her reintroduction to live stand-up after a pandemic-induced year-and-a-half hiatus, which officially ended in September when she made her first appearance in Los Angeles to prepare for the road.

Notaro didn’t do stand-up online or at drive-ins during those roughly 18 months of downtime. “I just thought, I’m gonna lay low, hang out with my family, do my podcasts, and then return if and when the time is right,” she says, speaking by phone between shows on her current tour. “I’ve returned, and I’m not certain the time is right, but I’m doing it and people are buying tickets and showing up, so it feels good.”

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There came a time during her time off when Notaro wondered if she would ever get onstage again. “I really didn’t know,” she says. “I love stand-up. But I’ve been doing it 25 years and I just thought, well, if this is the end of the road, I’ve had a great run. And I’m willing to pivot if need be. But luckily, this is still an option for now.”

Notaro had already toured with a new hour of material she was readying for her next special, and a lot of that material survives in the current show, with some new things added. It would be strange not to address COVID at all, but Notaro hasn’t made it a focus. “It’s not really what I want to talk about, other than just acknowledging it and then moving on,” she says. “[The material is] about my family, my marriage, my kids, my ongoing medical journey, and observations in life — a lot of nonsense.”

In a stand-up career that has continually evolved over 25 years, Notaro once again finds herself wondering what will come next. While she wasn’t touring, she was still very much in the public eye. She kept up two podcasts — her advice show “Don’t Ask Tig” and a review of documentaries, “Tig and Cheryl: True Story,” with Cheryl Hines. She debuted a new stand-up special called “Drawn” on HBO in 2021, which conveniently had been sold before the pandemic and featured cartoon renderings of previously recorded bits from different sets.

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But Notaro has also added another title over the past two years: Tig the Badass. That started when she was brought onboard “Star Trek: Discovery” in season two as Human Federation Starfleet officer Jett Reno, delivering lines like “Evolution is a fickle bitch, am I right?” and requiring her to take a deep dive into space jargon about phasers and radiation fields. She wasn’t sure she was the best fit for the role, and even told “Discovery” creator Alex Kurtzman as much.

“I was scared I was doing a bad job,” she says, “And I didn’t want him to feel like he had to keep having me back. He said, ‘Listen, now that I know that you’re struggling so much with your lines, I’m just gonna make them even harder for you.’ ”

Tig Notaro as chief engineer Jett Reno in "Star Trek: Discovery."Jan Thijs/CBS

Tig the Badass cemented her reputation in 2021 with the release of the zombie movie “Army of the Dead,” into which she was digitally added to play ultra-cool helicopter pilot Marianne Peters. That got her trending on Twitter as a sex symbol, with images of her in aviator shades and flight suit, a cigar planted firmly in her scowl.

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Notaro says she was working on an upcoming project, “Am I Okay?,” which she co-directed with her wife, actress Stephanie Allynne, when friends started texting to say she was trending. Notaro didn’t know what to make of it. “I said they’re texting me saying I’m trending for being ‘sexy as a F.’ And [Allynne] said, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s sexy AF, not as a F.’ ”

The attention did make her stop and reassess herself. “That was beyond shocking. I came into that role after the movie was shot,” she says, “so I thought I was gonna be just such an afterthought to a huge ensemble of very obviously hot women in the movie, you know? I didn’t think that turning 50 and being green-screened into an action zombie film was going to send me trending for being sexy.”

All of this comes at the end of a group of releases Notaro feels are part of a trilogy, starting with her 2012 album “Live” (as in “to live” rather than “live in concert”), and including her specials “Boyish Girl Interrupted” (2015) and “Happy to Be Here” (2018). She had been looking for a way to push herself past the dry one-liners of her earlier work into more of a storytelling style when life events — particularly a cancer diagnosis and the death of her mother — led her to deeply personal material. That connected with audiences and propelled her stand-up to new heights.

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Now, as she ventures back out on the road, and continues to explore new film and television projects, and potentially recording a new special on this tour, she is once again at the threshold of something new. And she’s as interested as the rest of us to see where it goes.

“I kind of don’t know where I am with my stand-up, because I’m just maybe 10 shows into doing stand-up again,” she says. “I had this conversation with Stephanie before I left on tour where I was like, ‘Gosh, it could go any direction.’ I truly don’t know what’s to come. And that’s kind of a weird and exciting, but weird, but exciting, but weird, but exciting feeling.”

TIG NOTARO

At the Chevalier Theatre, 30 Forest St., Medford, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. Tickets $35-$60. chevaliertheatre.com

Nick A. Zaino III can be reached at nick@nickzaino.com.