In comedy, Janeane Garofalo is a living legend. One of the breakout stars of the alt comedy of the 1990s, she went on to an eclectic entertainment career, appearing in movies like Reality Bites and The Truth About Cats & Dogs and TV shows from The Larry Sanders Show to 24, while also becoming one of the most prominent liberal voices with a stint on radio station Air America. But she's remained devoted stand-up and New York's alt scene, which is why she was perfect inclusion for A Night at Whiplash. I got the chance to talk to her about UCB, working out material on stage, and why she's doubtful about making any more specials.
It was so interesting to see you at the Whiplash tapings last year – I'm sure that everyone else on that show was influenced at least somewhat by your style of comedy. Do you see it? I think many people know that you were very influential in the way people started doing comedy.
I actually don't think so. You're giving me far too much credit. That's very kind that you say that, and I have heard that before, but I can't imagine how or why, since I can bomb as easily as I can do well. It's never changed over the years, it's hit or miss with me. And also, I think it's a style that chooses you rather than you choosing it. I see more people influenced by, in certain ways, Sarah Silverman, Todd Barry, Brian Regan. If there are people influenced by me, I don't see it when I see them. And I don't mean that as criticism, I'm giving them all the credit in the world of being who they are. Maybe if anything, people felt that it was okay to bring a notebook and try new stuff more often and not be afraid of tanking, which you will if you do it that [laughs] a lot, but I prefer to do it that way. It keeps it interesting. But I don't know. I would have to ask you, you're more objective than me, do you see it?
I think so. Like you say, whether it's bringing a notebook on stage or just people being more free to take something in a direction they weren't expecting to – my impression is that, if you traced the root of where that came from, a lot of people give you the credit for making that popular.
Yeah, I don't know why. I mean, that's really nice. It's nice to be known for something. I feel like there was a number of comedians around the time I started who were interested in doing standup that way. This type of thing was going on. And I think I was just in the right place at the right time to be noticed for it at that time. It was just pure timing, but there were other people doing it and doing it much better than me. I think I just got lucky for a brief amount of time in the 90s. READ MORE