Janeane Garofalo: If You Will (Blu-ray)
It has been over ten years since we last saw Janeane Garofalo doing stand-up. She amassed a decent following during the 90’s, drawing crowds in with her self-deprecating humor and nerdy demeanor. But Garofalo is all grown up now, having starred in several movies and holding down a regular spot on TV’s ‘24’ for a few seasons, leading many of her fans to wonder if she’s still as funny as she was or if she’s gotten too wrapped up in politics and Hollywood to get back to her roots.
The answer is not so simple and watching Janeane walk through the crowd carrying a giant notebook immediately leads the audience to question if this is the same old Garofalo we’ve seen before. She’s skinnier, tatted up and has more of a “Goth” look about her than the frumpy, heavy-set girl with glasses we’re used to. What’s odd about her routine is that she uses that notebook as a sort of note card that she references in-between jokes to find out what she’s supposed to say next. She openly mocks her own need for this notebook, but that mockery doesn’t make it any less odd. It didn’t affect her routine; it was just strange to see a 20 year comedic veteran using note cards.
As for her comedy, she starts out slow, as if she’s trying to be someone she’s not and therefore she seems a little uncomfortable. Her comedy is more Seinfeld-ish in that she’s taking every day things and finding humor. But the comedy takes off when she settles in and starts talking about what she’s good at; which is basically analyzing the way people treat her, not because of her looks but because of her attitude. The bit about not wanting kids and questioning why others want kids was perfect and something I can relate to. Which brings up the point that most stand-up comedy that people enjoy is stuff that they can relate to. She also had a great bit about why she’s a nice person (because she likes dogs). She only has one part that’s political in nature where she accuses republicans of being racist. It works in a way, but it wasn’t necessary and I’d bet it will probably alienate certain audience members.
Overall, though, her comedy is enjoyable. She doesn’t have a lot of routines that make you laugh out loud, but she’ll inspire several chuckles along the way, which makes her show worth the time. Once she settled down and became a little more comfortable with being on stage, the show really lightened up.
I consider myself a fan of Janeane Garofalo and I’ve always wanted her to do more movies and TV shows. Unfortunately, her lack of success is just as much her own doing as it is anything else. But it’s nice to see her back on the stand-up stage and this Blu-ray should give a new generation a talented female comedian to root for.