|2017||If I May|
|2010||If You Will|
|2016||Janeane Garofalo: If I May|
|2010||Janeane Garofalo: If You Will|
|2010||John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show|
|1999||Comedy Rx: Comics Come Home 5
Features multiple performers
|1997||Comics Come Home 3|
|1996||Kickin' Aspen: Maximum Comedy
From the Aspen Comedy Festival. Also known as "Kicking Aspen: Extreme Comedy"
|1995||HBO Comedy Half-Hour: Janeane Garofalo|
|1992||The 15th Annual Young Comedians Special|
|1988||MTV Half Hour Comedy Hour|
|1999||Feel This Book
Co-Author: Ben Stiller
Considered a Gen-X “grunge” comedian because she eschewed sexy clothes, make-up or a shiny hairstyle, Janeane Garofalo’s initial fame came from her sourly deadpan delivery and grumpy disdain for anything trendy.
Born in Newton, New Jersey, she was in high school when she moved with her family to Houston, Texas. She performed stand-up at The Comedy Workshop and continued while attending Providence College in Rhode Island.
In Boston she took a variety of lackluster jobs (health-club receptionist and bicycle messenger) and ultimately moved to L.A. where she began working in bookshops and coffee houses with her intentionally lackluster, slice-of-miserable-life comedy routines. She was disillusioned with show business itself:
“Most of the huge artists…Mariah Carey, Hootie, Michael Jackson, Michael Bolton—are popular because they are utterly mediocre. Mariah Carey is the definition of mediocrity to me, so how could she not be embraced by the public? The American public is not an arbiter of taste. People go to what they know. And radio force-feeds you Hootie and Mariah. You are forced to listen to that bullshit. You don’t want it. I want to hear more Elvis Costello, more PJ Harvey, and I have to seek it out. They won’t give it to me, and I don’t think that’s fair. But I don’t dislike middle America and John and Jane Q. Public. Most of my relatives are middle America. I dislike the taste makers. I dislike what tends to be popular. I don’t like T.G.I. Friday’s, I don’t like Planet Hollywood. I don’t like stuffed potato skins. I don’t like that kind of culture. I dislike the Super Bowl in my face all the time. I don’t give a fuck about the Super Bowl. I don’t want to see Friends anymore, even though I am friends with some of the Friends. I don’t want to see any more ads for Got Milk? or Diet Coke. I don’t want to see a Gap store every five seconds.”
Her contempt for showbiz attracted the attention of producers and bookers—who, in typically twisted fashion, tried to change the very thing that made her so interesting. “In 1990 I did a Young Comedians special in Phoenix. They had to confer with the director because my face looked so full. They would never do that for a guy comic, but with me they’re like, “Could you shade or contour her because her face is really, really full. She looks really chunky.” That will make me not change a thing. Not only won’t I do more with makeup, I’ll do less.”
While not completely “grunge” in appearance, she did sport a bunch of small blue tattoos. “They’re just little ones,” she admits, “‘cause it’s too painful. So I keep it to a minimum.”
She began amassing good credits, from “The Dennis Miller Show” to “Comic Strip Live” and “MTV’s Half Hour Comedy Hour.”
In 1992 she appeared on “The Ben Stiller Show,” and after it ended, joined “Saturday Night Live,” but only staying through the 1994-1995 season. She simply didn’t fit in, noting “my comedy’s never been, you know, a real crowd-pleaser. My look has never been a real crowd-pleaser, for casting, you know.”
Not until she began playing characters closer to herself, especially the deadpan talent booker Paula on HBO’s “Larry Sanders Show.” Her role on the show from 1992-1997 seemed to expand greatly once she was free from her other TV committments, including Comedy Central’s “Comedy Product.” Gradually movie roles began to capitalize on her acerbic personality. She became somewhat known for playing grousing, slightly pudgy wisecrackers. This may have endeared her to a core of like-minded and hostile girls, and to the men who feel sorry for them, but it wasn’t the way she wanted to spend her entire career. As she told Playboy magazine:
“I had just bought a co-op and wasn’t doing real well financially. I thought, Fuck, I’ve got to work. What would help? The answer: being thinner. Talent isn’t the first thing people look at, obviously. You can tell that by the people who are working. Especially for women, thinness and looks are key, unless you want to play only one type of part, over and over and over again: the bitter, because-you’re-overweight-means-you-don’t-have-a-vagina sidekick, best friend, roommate, single gal. The Eve Arden part. That’s boring. Now that I’m thinner I get to audition for the wife and love-interest parts.”
She played Winona Ryder’s roommate in “Reality Bites” and Randy Quaid’s date in “Bye Bye Love,” ultimately landing her own starring vehicle, “The Truth About Cats and Dogs,” a variation on “Cyrano de Bergerac” championing the underdog over thoroughbred co-star Uma Thurman.
Though acting roles are beginning to dominate her career, she still enjoys the singular creative benefits of solo stand-up: “It’s not that I don’t care if people don’t understand what I’m doing. It’s just that I don’t know of any other way to do it. There’s so many weird thoughts that go through my head, you know, and I write them down and recite them, or try and target them or try to make a connection, and it doesn’t always work, but it’s never, ‘Oh yeah, this is too hip for the room.’ I don’t have that attitude at all. My attitude is, “This is what I’m thinking. Are you thinking that too? Have you ever thought that?’”