Tig Notaro Says Her ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Recurring Role Is Funny, Hopes Fans Accept Her

For the first time since it was announced last month, comedian Tig Notaro is talking about being cast for the second season of Star Trek: Discovery. 

All that was previously known about Notaro’s role is that her character is named Denise Reno, and she is the Chief Engineer of the U.S.S. Hiawatha. Today we also learned via EW that it will be a recurring guest role. And speaking to the Dallas Observer to promote an upcoming comedy show, Notaro said the Discovery role “is really funny and feels really natural to me.”

The actress and comedian also explained she got the Trek gig through a longtime connection to executive producer Alex Kurtzman, from when they both worked as assistants on the Hercules and Xena TV series in the 90s, adding:

“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.’ 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.”

And speaking to IndieWire, Notaro said Kurtzman knew the character would fit her:

“In guest starring on Season 2 of Star Trek, I’m in the hands of Alex Kurtzman, who I’ve known for a couple of decades, and he knows my voice really well,” Notaro said. “My character, I’m telling you, the writing that was done for my character is just spectacular. I followed ‘Star Trek’ as a child and had the action figures. The whole thing is just ridiculously fun and exciting.”

Notaro has a number of acting credits, but those have primarily been in film and TV comedies, including her starring role for two seasons in the semi-autobiographical Amazon comedy One Mississippi. This isn’t the first time Discovery has turned to an actor known for comedy. The Office’s Rainn Wilson appeared twice as Harry Mudd in the show’s first season.

New comedy special online today

The comedian’s latest special – titled Tig Notaro: Happy to Be Here – debuts today on Netflix.

Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusively in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on Space and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.

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Queue up the malcontents trying to say something negative on this article…

Well you did good for a start.

Oh, the irony.

Oh no, this could mean humour and levity, bloody ‘ell! Good enough?

It’s a poor series. Fans of Trek should be allowed to say that without labelled “malcontents” on an article about a gay actress getting a part in it. Whoopteedoo. Now honour continuity and write decent scripts.

Sure, sure………..

“Now honour continuity and write decent scripts.”

Exactly, Martin. And I hope those exact things are not getting lost in the shuffle in the writers room, while the show is so busy patting itself on the back for being so inclusive and diverse. Give us great stories – the rest will fall into place.

Continuity has been honored to my satisfaction, the scripts are some of the best in a Trek’s long history.

You’re a malcontent.


1. dissatisfied and complaining or making trouble.

1. a person who is dissatisfied and rebellious.
synonyms: troublemaker, mischief-maker, agitator, dissident, rebel, rabble-rouser;
2. Danpaine. A user on Trekmovie.com who whines about the subjective quality of tv shows and movies he continues watching despite his intense dislike of them.
synonymns: masochist, buffoon, Martin, Bryant Burnette, PhilK;

“Continuity has been honored to my satisfaction, the scripts are some of the best in a Trek’s long history.” Thanks for your *opinion*, Afterburn. And that’s all it is, an opinion, like anyone elses.

As to the rest of what you said, you simply showed how childish you are. I’m one of the least abrasive visitors to this site, as many here would likely attest.

If I’m a Malcontent for having my own good or bad opinions about this show (and never have I said anything about an “intense” dislike), then that’s me, a malcontent.

Don’t bother responding, I won’t answer. You got your rise out of me, which I imagine was your intention. Good for you.

I’m glad her role will add some much-needed levity to the show. Just added her Netflix stand-up to my queue.

Glad to see so much in-universe and out-of-universe-behind-the-scenes LGBT and female involvement shaping Discovery to be the inclusive and positive thing that it is! The long-ac-stories have been some of the best Trek to date and the most “realistic” and human relatable. And the F-bombs! Finally a Trek that feels real like people actually speak and that shows people of all types and thus truly lives up to Trek’s infinite diversity in infinite combinations. Having a set of show runners (and the creator of the show, Bryan Fuller) who are gay men and a woman really make a difference in making sure women’s representation and LGBT representation is not ignored like it was for so may decades. LLAP!

For sure! And what about the apart when they introduce a gay doctor, fail to develop his character, murder him for no reason, and then risibly turn him into a ghost! LLAP! BTW, Bryan Fuller was fired! LLAP! The co-creator, Alex, of the show who remained on board is a hetero! He makes awful movies like The Mummy! “Realistic” is not an adjective that should ever be used in relation to Discovery! Having gay characters does little for representation if the show is idiotic claptrap! LLAP!

Geez, man. Could you just tone down the snark? Cause you made a valid point there about Culber being an underdeveloped character; furthermore the “shroom-ghost” thing also struck me as a cop-out. Like someone suddenly noticed one episode into the MU-miniarc: “Oh bugger, we killed our one everyman-character and he didn’t even have an arc!”
The rest of your points doesn’t hold up well: Firstly, as of yet the exact circumstances sorrounding Fuller’s departure (or firing) are still a mystery. Secondly, Aaron Harberts is one of the current co-showrunners and he’s openly gay. So while I don’t quite share Luke’s enthusiasm, your cheap potshots are just getting so damn tiresome.

Then why do you feel the need to comment endlessly on this “idiotic claptrap”. Is your life so devoid of purpose? Are you so caught up in your intolerant views of anyone who isnt a straight, white male? Isnt it about time you realised the only thing you are doing with this endless parade of sexist, borderline-homophobic, snarky and tiresome comments is embarrassing yourself?

Aaron is gay. Gretchen is a woman. They are the only show runners. EP is a different job. If you hate a show so much but still insist on commenting on it negatively, perhaps know some more facts so you can at least hate it and be factually accurate :)

Ya, they should appease that 10-20% of the population. Makes sense

I missed the part where every single character and extra on Discovery was a gay dude.

We have one out of six Discovery mains who are gay (just counting people serving on the ship. That’s about 16%. Just counting the bridge crews, thats one out of about 40-something mains for all the Trek series — so about 2 percent.

How’s that overrepresentation?

And who says Notaro will be playing a lesbian (she might be).

More like 4% as of 2016.

Well, wake the f@ck up. It’s 2018.

Well, any percentage of LGBTQ characters would only include those that are out of the closet in some form or another. And having characters that are different from the viewer doesn’t automatically make them unrelatable. If that were true, then there would be far fewer fans of all the straight-white-male stories out there than there are. Non-straight-white-men have had to make due with stories that haven’t represented them for centuries. It’s not so much to ask straight-white-men to open their minds to stories that aren’t about them, too.


The most popular character on TOS was Spock, and the last time I checked, not ONE of his fans was a human-Vulcan hybrid. :-)

If Trek fans can take a member of another SPECIES to our collective bosom, we should have no problem with humans of another race or sex or sexual orientation.

And we don’t know what Saru is, yet. For all we know, Kelpians could be sexless/genderless or only reproduce through genetic engineering.

Well said Corylea!

How much of the Gen-pop Trek friendly? CBS All-Access is already appeasing a smaller subset of the population…us!

I feel it’s bigotry to challenge the sexuality/race/shoe size/whatever with,”Why?” The question is “Why not?”

Still feels too much like americans in space, though.

Fuller seems to have trouble holding a job. I doubt it’s due to sexual identity.

I gotta say, when her casting was announced I had NO idea who the heck she was. None. So when I see here in season 2 I will have no preconceived notions. Just like I had no idea who Green was when they cast her as Burnham.

Hey BorgKlingon, gonna tell this to JAGT, too?

I thought not.

Same here. I’m excited to see how it’ll work out. Comedians oftentimes make remarkably good actors after all.

I agree. They often do. Although I wouldn’t say “excited” for me it’s more “curious”.

To be honest: Anything that might bring more levity to DISCO just makes me cautiously optimistic. And I’m not even saying that there were no fun moments in S1, but they seemed few and far between.

I think that is a function of the short season. There really is very little room to stop and be light once in a while. With so few episodes they NEED to move the story arc forward. As far as I recall, the one kinda fun moment was the Lorca getting killed montage.

I have to say that “Lorca getting killed over and over” scene was one of the highlights of the season for me. Very funny, well directed.

Hmm, funny. I didn’t like the direction in that scene at all. That whole vari-speed/180°panning-thing struck me as very “late nineties/early 00s” – kinda like Fight Club or The Boondock Saints.

Makes sense, I like both those films :)

Yeah, me too. And I too liked the episode as such, make no mistake about that! But that montage just felt strangely out of place to me – a quibble, I admit!

And Rainn Wilson and Jason Isaacs played those so well! It’s one of my favorite episodes

It was pretty much the only “fun” moment in the entire season. Which is saying something about the show, I think.

My thoughts exactly.

I see: We’re “crazy fandom”.

Welcome, Tig.

Oh yeah. Fans are as crazy as a soup sandwich, every last one of us. Is this supposed to be a problem? :)

Go Tig go!!! I watched her Amazon show and say more power to her. Trek has been about inclusivity not exclusivity. Glad to see a diverse future represented. Not the my way or the highway exclusivity of the recent past.


As long as it’s all straight, white guys.

She popped onto my radar on “The Sarah Silverman Show”. She’ll nail this :)

I wonder if her character’s last name “Reno” is a nod to the late Janet Reno, Attorney General under Bill Clinton.

I thought that it was because most of her stand up comedy was in Reno. J/K

Oh you mean the crazy lady under Clinton who was responsible for deporting Elian Gonzalez at gunpoint? Yeah, no thank you!

Jean Reno, iconic French action movie star.

I’m extremely excited about this! I think she’s fantastic. She’s been interviewed a few times on Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR, & she’s very interesting & funny.

I won’t have any trouble accepting her. Accepting the people starring in the show is not an issue for me.

Accepting the lousy job the writers have done so far, on the other hand…

Same. In the future when we look back on this show, the representation will seem normal. Just as looking back on TOS and uhura and sulu and chekov seem normal now, though it was groundbreaking at the time. Thankfully TOS had the writing (usually) to remain compelling in today’s world.
Discovery’s bad writing is going to make this show seem really empty once LGBT and gender representation is common and no longer something inherently interesting. It’s going to be an extremely dated show.

Hopefully the writing will improve as seasons progress. I have high hopes for season two but am not expecting much, sadly. I just don’t think this group of writers has the chops, from what we’ve seen so far. The fact I don’t find any desire to re-watch season one tells me a lot. And honestly, this Trek incarnation came out a little late in the LGBT and gender representation game, as nearly every popular show for the past ten years beat them to it. What we’re seeing here isn’t groundbreaking for TV, it’s only groundbreaking (to a degree) for Star Trek.

Tig is a stitch. Here’s hoping that they somehow figure out a way for her character to interact with Mary Wiseman’s Tilly. Ahead warp factor f-bombs!

Wouldn’t it have been great to have had the same female empowerment, diverse crew, race and sexuality representation BUT a series that honoured the visual continuity of the previous series? I want to be proud of Star Trek for all this positive stuff but it doesn’t feel like my Star Trek. Why did The Last Jedi do it so well? Visual continuity, managing to make the 70s retro aesthetic look so sexy… meanwhile Star Trek has to be rebooted or visually re-imagined… They have got it so wrong. How can I behind a series that doesn’t want to be part of that rich 50 year tapestry? Change for the sake of change is an insult. And what’s worse – anyone who dislikes Discovery, they are called rascist, sexiest or homophobic. I’m a gay man, from a Middle Eastern background. I hate Discovery. Not because of any social agenda I may have… because it’s lazy ‘jump the shark’ writing and piss poor science. I still watch it for popcorn fodder but no where near with the same reverence for previous series, which ironically were less socially ‘progressive’. I saw a crew member in Discovery wearing a hijab in the mess hall in one scene! A hijab. I think the writers are high on their own farts.

Good post, Martin.

I wouldn’t worry. At some point they’re gonna start retconning stuff like there was no tomorrow. Take my word for it!

I am really looking forward to seeing Tig on the show! I love her.

Now for how the ship “Hiawatha” fits into the general scheme of things …

Tig can do no wrong in my eyes. Here’s to bringing her back season after season.

Never heard of her

One of the best comedians working today.

Tig Notaro is a lousy stand-up commedienne. I hope her acting is better than her jokes. I’ll give her a chance. Maybe the Klingons will eat her.