Janeane Garofalo: If You Will – Live in Seattle
September 20, 2010
For a good part of the 1990s, Janeane Garofalo was the alt. “it” girl – the cynical, sarcastic variation on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She first appeared on the popular culture radar with a regular stint on short-lived television comedy skit program The Ben Stiller Show and then dabbled in the mainstream, appearing in high profile films like Reality Bites (1994) and The Truth About Cats and Dogs (1996) but she never seemed comfortable in them. Garofalo shifted to supporting roles in quirky films, like the hard-hitting police corruption drama Cop Land (1997) and the Coen brothers-esque Clay Pigeons (1998). In the 2000s, she became more politically active, hosting a radio show on Air America and often appearing as the token liberal on conservative news and talk shows on Fox.
Recently, Garofalo has gotten back to her roots: stand-up comedy and this DVD documents a sold out gig in Seattle. However, as she reminds the audience early on, she’s been doing this for 25 years (wow, has it been that long?). Her trademark, self-deprecating humour kicks in right from the get-go as she addresses how the media perceives her (basically as an intimidating elder lesbian) and how this reputation trickles down to someone who serves her coffee at Starbucks.
Garofalo also addresses aging, her own personal hygiene and how she’s come to terms with it in an amusing and honest way. Funny bits include her views on intimacy. She doesn’t fear it, rather has a “lack of interest” in it. She also talks about the narcissistic aspects of the Internet and how she is a bit of a Luddite when it comes to technology. She doesn’t even use a computer, which made her role on the hit T.V. show 24 as a computer technician, rather ironic. Another highlight sees Garofalo touching briefly on how Lady Gaga baffles her, how she’d like to be Natalie Portman and why she finds CSI’s David Caruso creepy.
Garofalo’s brand of observational humour is smart with a ring of honesty to it as she turns a critical eye on herself as much as she does on others. It’s good to see her doing stand-up comedy again. There’s something reassuring knowing that she’s out there telling things the way she sees them: a Gen-Xer with her own brand of cynicism. This concert probably won’t convert any new fans but for those of us who’ve been following her for years, it is a potent reminder just how funny she can be.
“Janeane on Pets” is a “candid” interview where she talks about her dogs and how she dealt with their deaths. This skit riffs on children as pets and how two fans of hers give one of their children to her but was unable to “train” it properly.
“Congressman’s Dream” is a skit where Garofalo is killing time backstage before the gig and meets a conservative politician from Ohio who confronts her about how she says members of the Tea Party are racists. This bit makes fun of Republicans and how they view her.