The Inverse Interview

Discovery's Most Unlikely Star Doesn't Understand Star Trek Canon At All

As the journey of Jett Reno comes to a close, Tig Notaro reveals her thoughts on her Trek legacy and a surprising Star Wars connection.

A person in a blue Starfleet uniform looks intently to the side in a dim, futuristic spacecraft sett...
Star Trek
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Although she helps maintain the warp engine and the spore drive on the eponymous starship in Star Trek: Discovery, Tig Notaro doesn’t want Trek fans to confuse her with her Starfleet counterpart, Jett Reno. “I would not be the person to go to get all the Star Trek information,” Notaro tells Inverse, with her signature deadpan delivery. “In fact they had asked me to host the Star Trek podcast a while back, and I almost had a stroke thinking about it.”

Yes, Notaro is just as naturally funny and disarming in an interview as she is doing stand-up comedy, or throughout all her appearances on Discovery. Starting in 2019, in Season 2, the comedian became a reoccurring presence, rescued by Captain Pike (Anson Mount) and Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) from the downed starship USS Hiawatha, presumed lost during the Klingon War. Since then, Reno has jumped forward 930 years into the future with the rest of the crew, and as Discovery speeds toward its final few episodes, she’s around more, fixing technobabble Star Trek problems with a one-liner, and, lately, a cocktail recommendation.

As Discovery begins airing its final three episodes ever, Inverse caught up with the Notaro to talk about how she got here, what it’s like to perform stand-up at a Star Trek convention, and why she’s proud of her legacy in the Final Frontier.

Adira (Blu del Barrio as), Jett Reno (Tig Notaro), and Tilly (Mary Wiseman) face a Star Trek-y problem in Discovery Season 5.


Like the previous three seasons, Reno’s presence on Discovery seems to fill a similar role of shoot-from-the-hip, honest character in the vein of Scotty or Bones in The Original Series. Reno’s always quick with a sardonic observation about a sci-fi problem, but, like Bones, she’s also always down to suggest a quick drink to lighten the mood. In “Face the Strange,” she told a time-traveling Rayner she only drinks ice-cold Vespers, and in Episode 7, “Erigah” she mentions her prowess at making a cocktail called “Seven of Limes,” a clear pun about the popular Trek character, Seven of Nine. It all sounds like the kind of stuff Notaro would say in real life, in the context of her stand-up sets, but she says that she doesn’t ad-lib any of her Trek dialogue.

“I don't add the slightest thing,” Notaro insists. “That’s what’s so impressive about these writers. When Alex [Kurtzman] developed this character, he said that he went back and watched and listened to all of my standups. They really wanted to make it me. That’s why I always call it Tig-in-space.”

But, Notaro also points out that Kurtzman didn’t just develop the character of Reno based on Notaro’s standup, but also her own personal science fiction fandom. Because while Notaro is not deeply rooted in Star Trek lore, she does love Star Wars. “There's a nod to my love of Star Wars in that there's a hint of Han Solo in that character as well,” she says.

Although a veteran comedian, Notaro says that her role in Star Trek: Discovery has created an entirely new fanbase; people inspired by her character in the show, but who were largely unfamiliar with her as a stand-up.

Tig Notaro with Ethan Peck, during the promotion of Discovery Season 2. Peck now plays Spock in Strange New Worlds. Notaro is open to returning to the Star Trek universe after Discovery ends this year.

Variety/Penske Media/Getty Images

“I did stand-up last year at the big Star Trek convention in Vegas,” Notaro explains. “It was just all of these people, I think, staring at me like, ‘oh, she does stand up?’ And it was a fun show. I can't say it was my best. I've been doing standup for almost thirty years, and I have a level of perfectionism to my performance whether people can see that or not. But the most redeeming part was afterward I did a meet and greet and the line was out the door of just the kindest people that were at that show. It was a real treat to actually talk with people afterwards.”

Unlike Han Solo, Scotty, or Bones, Notaro is a gay woman and plays a gay woman in Star Trek: Discovery. She’s not the first openly queer character in Trek, but because of Notaro’s heroic status in the LGBTQIA+ community, her presence in the hopeful context of the 32nd century of Discovery is more than just quips and one-liners.

She also says she knows that her legacy in Trek isn’t over and that she could always come back. But, if she doesn’t return to the Trek mythos soon, how might she feel if her legacy is described as a version of Scotty, but if Scotty was a queer woman? “Oh I’m fine with that description,” Notaro says. “One thousand percent yes. My God yes. Absolutely.”

Star Trek: Discovery streams on Paramount+.

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