LIVE REVIEW: J-Garofalo At Theater Of Arts


BY SARA SHERR When you see Janeane Garofalo up close, the first thing you notice is how tiny she is. While standing in the box office line, I saw The Heroine To Stubby, Smart-Ass Girls Everywhere walk on by in a knit cap, leather jacket, black-and-white houndstooth pants, and the exact same face from the ’90s: porcelain skin, red lips, and cat-eye glasses.

Onstage, she was larger than life with her signature jet black hair, tattoos and blue tank top that read “Praise the Lord.” Like Exile in Guyville, she was all punk rock and piss and vinegar. In rapid-fire pacing and bone-dry sarcasm, the former Air America host veered between the personal and the political. Almost in the same breath, she asked why Vagisil can’t be renamed the far less embarrassing Manhattan Project and why Scooter Libby should be pardoned, while boning an intern is an impeachable offense. There were impressions of the Britishness of HBO series “Rome” (“oy, ginger mob”), two different kinds of punk dancing (“starting the old-timey lawnmower” and “ringing the bell”), and a comparison of the spectacle of Republican hypocrisy to “Decline of Western Civilization: The Metal Years.” She asked why Oprah was so hard on James Frey and so easy on Dubya and his wife. “Republicans never use the word ‘lie’,” she said. “Instead it’s ‘misled.'” She summarized the Republican M.O.: “You don’t have to care about anything (the environment, the debt, education) but you can claim moral high ground.”

She was just as honest with her personal hygiene (“My sweat is like hummous meets vinyl”) dating life (deciding if that not-very-bright fireman was “dumb or really Zen”) and sobriety: “I don’t want to go anywhere. I have nothing to say. I’m not going to be interested in your conversation. I’m not going to make out with anyone.” Other Garofalo sayings: “I prefer sticks and stones to names.” “I would rather not love at all than loved and lost.” We get our justice from “Law & Order” and world peace will only be achieved by an alien invasion or the apes rising up.

Opener and Wet Hot American Summer co-star Michael Showalter introduced his act by saying “Janeane Garofalo will tell you things about Scooter Libby that will blow your mind. I, on the other hand will talk about poo.” The State/Stella comedian was self-deprecating, admitting that he was once mistaken for bankrupt Saved By The Bell uberdork Screech, and that he loved John Belushi so much in the fourth grade that he convinced his mother to let him have a toga party until 5:00 in the afternoon (“when the parents were told to pick the kids up”). In Power Point presentation, he chronicled the discovery of hip-hop (“Run-DMC and some other bands”) life as a child “on the mean streets of Princeton” and in overnight camp in the Berkshire Mountains. He introduced various euphemisms (gonorrhea as “fucker’s cock,” dandruff as “sparkles”). Copping to cheesy taste in music, he hides Journey on his iPod under the name “Sufjan Stevens” and Sheryl Crow is cleverly filed under “Cat Power” — the perfect crime. A Creed song “makes me wanna dickslap God.” He ended his set by declaring, “Let’s make our own lists and start a revolution of shitty music.” Grade: A

[Photo by Ali Smith]

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