|Janeane Garofalo (born September 28, 1964 in Newton, New Jersey), is an American stand-up comedian, actress, political activist, writer and former co-host on Air America Radio's The Majority Report.
Janeane Garofalo is of Italian/Irish descent, the child of Carmine Garofalo, a former executive at Exxon, and Joan Garofalo, a secretary in the petrochemical industry who died of cancer when Janeane was 24. She grew up in various places, including Ontario, California and Katy, Texas where she graduated from James E. Taylor High School. While studying history at Providence College, Garofalo entered a comedy talent search sponsored by the Showtime cable network, winning the title of "Funniest Person in Rhode Island." Her original gimmick was to read off her hand, which was not successful in subsequent performances. Dreaming of earning a slot on the writing staff of the TV show Late Night With David Letterman, she became a professional standup upon graduating college with degrees in history and American studies. She struggled for a number of years, working briefly as a bike messenger in Boston. Garofalo is quoted as having disliked life in Houston due to the humidity, heat, and emphasis on prettiness and sports in high school.
The winner of numerous comedy awards and recognitions, she officially began her career in stand-up comedy in the late 1980s during the pre-grunge era. Her appearance was often in line with very late 1980s style: disheveled with thick black glasses and unkempt hair. Her comedy is often self-deprecating; she has made fun of popular culture and the pressures on women to conform to body image ideals promoted by the media.
When in San Francisco, Garofalo was a frequent guest at the San Francisco Comedy Condo.
Garofalo is a self-described pessimist: "I guess I just prefer to see the dark side of things. The glass is always half empty. And cracked. And I just cut my lip on it. And chipped a tooth."
Garofalo's comedy shows involve her and her notebook, which is filled with years' worth of article clippings and random observations she references for direct quotes during her act, and uses current events to enhance the improvised, fully conversational aspect of her standup. Garofalo feels she does not tell jokes but makes observations and hopes to get laughs. In her act, she once told of getting mugged and having her notebook stolen. "So, if you see two guys bombing at the Funny Bone, that's them."
Garofalo and comedian Marc Maron helped organize the weekly alternative Eating It standup comedy show, with different line-ups each week, which played for years at the Luna Lounge in New York's Lower East Side before the bar was finally razed. Later Garofalo and Maron would again work together during the creation and early days of liberal radio network Air America Radio.
In April 2004, she was selected as #99 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 greatest standups of all time.
Her television series debut was on the short-lived The Ben Stiller Show on Fox in 1992, on which she was a cast member alongside longtime friends Ben Stiller, Bob Odenkirk, Andy Dick and David Cross (who was a writer on the show). A chance meeting on the set of that show led her to be offered the role of Paula on The Larry Sanders Show on HBO, earning her two Emmy Award nominations in 1996 and 1997.
Following The Ben Stiller Show's cancellation, Garofalo joined the cast of Saturday Night Live (SNL) in its ill-fated 1994-95 season, as detailed in Tom Shales' book Live From New York: The Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live and mentioned in Jay Mohr's Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live. Upon arrival at SNL, she gave an interview in which she called fellow cast member Adam Sandler's comedy "childish". Writers on the show expressed dismay at Garofalo's apparently negative attitude, dismissing Garofalo as insecure. In one instance in Live From New York, Garofalo complained of suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (after hearing a pitch for a sketch about an army of alien fighters being sexually molested one by one by the unseen aliens inside the spaceship--a sketch that actually appeared during the season in an episode hosted by Deion Sanders) and drinking a lot during her tenure. In the same book, the other writers cited that she rarely assisted in writing sketches, never doing an "all-nighter" for a skit unlike several cast members. In an HBO comedy special, Garofalo described her tenure on SNL as "being the Indian given the blanket infected with smallpox by the cavalry." On a more positive note, Garofalo mentioned in the same HBO comedy special that the only good part about her tenure on SNL is that she got to meet Alec Baldwin and George Clooney (both were hosts during the 1994-1995 season).
The tense, bitter atmosphere discomforted Garofalo, and she left in January 1995 (mid-season) after only six months, claiming that the material was weak and a sexist attitude pervaded the show. The material on SNL at the time was widely deemed mediocre, and other writers, such as Bruce Vilanch, have stated in interviews that many male members of the show frown upon women and homosexuals. Reliably outspoken on issues of sexism, Garofalo was later asked in an interview if SNL deserves the reputation of overt sexist treatment of women writers and cast members, but she said "everyone" was unhappy during her tenure, not just women. In Shales' aforementioned book, she is quoted as saying of SNL executive producer, "Lorne Michaels prefers the house divided."
Despite her short and unhappy tenure on a dismal season, Garofalo did participate in sketches and impersonated several celebrities, such as Hillary Clinton, Jackie Stallone, Martha Stewart, Madonna, Jodie Foster, Mary Lou Retton, Susan Sarandon, Juliette Lewis, and Susan Molinari.
Garofalo has done many special guest star roles, including a former girlfriend of Dave Foley's character in Newsradio. She also has been offered many television series roles but has accepted few; she turned down the role of Monica, for which she was the first choice, on the hit NBC sitcom Friends. Two television pilots starring Garofalo, the 2003 ABC show Slice O'Life about a reporter consigned to sappy human interest stories appearing at the end of news broadcasts, and the 2005 NBC program All In, based on the life of poker star Annie Duke, were not picked up by their respective networks. Her persona, thanks to her Larry Sanders character, provided the basis for the lead role on Steven Levitan's Just Shoot Me!, though the part was taken by Laura San Giacomo.
Throughout the 2005-2006 television season, Garofalo appeared on The West Wing as Louise Thornton, a controversial campaign adviser to the fictional Democratic presidential nominee. Garofalo participated in the series' first live episode, most of which was a debate televised live on the East Coast and then reshot live for the West. Garofalo's character can be seen walking backstage with her advisee before the start of each debate.
In 2006 she provided the voice for the animated character "Bearded Clam" on Comedy Central's Freak Show alongside her friend David Cross.
Garofalo's first critically-acclaimed starring role in film was in 1996 in The Truth About Cats and Dogs, a variation on Cyrano de Bergerac which featured Uma Thurman in the top-billed but smaller role as a beautiful but vapid model, while Garofalo played a highly intelligent radio host. Initially an independent film, it became a studio movie when Uma Thurman was signed to play the shallow model. The film was a modest hit, but Garofalo detests it to this day, calling it anti-feminist (and admitting discomfort in the "ugly duckling" role).
Based on the success of this film, director Cameron Crowe then offered her the leading lady role in Jerry Maguire with Tom Cruise if she could lose weight, but after trimming down, she learned that Renée Zellweger had won the part instead in what was to become a career-launching smash hit.
The mid-1990s were what Garofalo has termed the height of her popularity. Before The Truth About Cats and Dogs, she was visible from television work and memorable supporting roles in films such as Reality Bites, Bye Bye Love and Now and Then and a leading role in I Shot a Man in Vegas. Garofalo has had a variety of leading, supporting and cameo roles in films as diverse as Cop Land, Wet Hot American Summer, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, Dogma, The Cable Guy, Mystery Men, The Wild and Clay Pigeons.
Garofalo also played the leading role in the The Matchmaker, a 1997 film about the misadventures of a cynical American woman who reluctantly visits the West of Ireland.
A puppet version of Garofalo appeared (and was rather graphically killed off) in the movie Team America: World Police, although it is stated in the credits that she did not authorize or endorse this screen appearance at the time, but took it in good humor.
According to the Independent Film Channel Garofalo will have a major segment in at least 4 episodes of the 2007 season of "The Henry Rollins Show". Apparently these will take place in her apartment, much in the same way Henry's take place at his house.
* Late for Dinner (1991)
* That's What Women Want (1992)
* Reality Bites (1994)
* Bye Bye Love (1995)
* I Shot A Man In Vegas (1995)
* Coldblooded (1995)
* Now And Then (1995)
* Sweethearts (1996)
* Truth About Cats and Dogs (1996) (Abbey Barnes)
* The Cable Guy (1996)
* Larger Than Life (1996)
* Touch (1997)
* Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997) (Heather Mooney)
* The Matchmaker (1997) (Marcy Tizard)
* Cop Land (1997)
* Clay Pigeons (1998)
* Kiki's Delivery Service (1998) (voice)
* Thick as Thieves (1998)
* Permanent Midnight (1998)
* Half Baked (1998)
* The Thin Pink Line (1998)
* The Bumblebee Flies Anyway (1999)
* Torrance Rises (1999)
* Can't Stop Dancing (1999)
* Mystery Men (1999) (The Bowler)
* Dogma (1999)
* The Independent (1999)
* 200 Cigarettes (1999)
* The Minus Man (1999)
* Dog Park (2000)
* Steal This Movie! (2000) (Anita Hoffman)
* Titan A.E. (2000)
* The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000)
* What Planet Are You From? (2000)
* The Laramie Project (2001)
* The Search for John Gissing (2001)
* Wet Hot American Summer (2001) (Beth)
* Martin & Orloff (2002)
* Big Trouble (2002)
* Manhood (Showtime; 2003)
* Wonderland (2003)
* Nobody Knows Anything! (2003)
* Jiminy Glick in Lalawood (2004)
* Duane Hopwood (2005)
* Nadine in Date Land, Oxygen Network; (2005) (Nadine Barnes)
* Stay (2005) (Dr. Beth Levy)
* Southland Tales (2005)
* The Wild (2006) (voice)
* Ratatouille (2007) (voice)
* The Ten (2007)
* Outlaw Comic: The Censoring of Bill Hicks (2003)
* TV Nation, NBC, Fox
* The Chris Rock Show, HBO
* The Larry Sanders Show, HBO (Paula)
* The Ben Stiller Show, Fox
* Tales of the City, BBC/PBS (Coppola Woman)
* "Small Doses", Comedy Central
* Saturday Night Live, NBC
* Seinfeld, NBC
* The Simpsons (Herself)
* Newsradio, NBC
* Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Cartoon Network
* Law & Order, NBC
* Late Night with Conan O'Brien
* Now with Bill Moyers, PBS
* The Daily Show
* Janeane Garofalo, HBO (1997) (hour-long standup special)
* The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
* The King of Queens, CBS (Trish)
* Shorties Watching Shorties, Comedy Central
* The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC
* Primetime Glick, Comedy Central
* Mad About You (series finale) (Mabel)
* Home Improvement
* The Belzer Connection, SciFi Channel
* Pilot Season
* Tanner On Tanner, Sundance Channel (Herself)
* Stella, Comedy Central
* Hannity & Colmes, Fox News
* Real Time with Bill Maher, HBO
* Comic Remix
* Jimmy Kimmel Live, ABC
* The Rosie O'Donnell Show
* Dennis Miller Live
* The Sopranos, HBO (Herself)
* King of the Hill, Fox
* Ellen, ABC
* Dinner for Five, IFC
* Mr. Show with Bob and David: Fantastic Newness, HBO (1996)
* The West Wing, NBC (2005) (Louise Thornton)
* In the Life, PBS (2005)
* Strangers with Candy (Cassie Pines)
* The Adventures of Pete and Pete, Nickelodeon