She’s No Jokester – Janeane Garofalo

janeane garofalo live 2016Janeane Garofalo is not really a stand-up comedian.  Strange to say that about someone who has been doing stand-up for decades.  What I mean is she is not your prototypical stand-up in that she does not tell jokes.  Watching her perform her 45-minute set (4th of 5 she is doing during the Just for Laughs offshoot, Zoofest) you realize very quickly that she is a storyteller and a wry observer of human behaviour rather than a joke teller.  She even warned us at the beginning of her set that she was not a joke writer.  Still was an enjoyable evening.


Known to most as an actress, Garofalo’s show took place at the tiny Mainline Theatre on St. Laurent.  It suited her style better and she is definitely more comfortable on the stage rather than in a comedy club.  The audience sat surrounding her as she wandered from one subject to another.  It had the feeling of a stream of consciousness show rather than something that was scripted.  Off the top of her head and chatty as you would imagine being at a party with her is like.  Like you were just listening to Janeane Garofalo talk about whatever was on her mind.  Apparently pubic hair, airplane travel and her boyfriend’s stinky feet are what she thinks about.  Random, very random.  And that pretty much sums up a Garofalo show.  She talks about the oddest things and makes the hilarious.  Rambling and disjointed, but always intriguing and funny.


There are moments of normalcy.  Or what could pass for normal based on the fact that it is a Janeane Garofalo show.  She did talk about how odd modern life is and makes rather on the mark observations about pop culture.  A particular talent of hers is to take something that we all see every day and show us how really odd or silly it is.  Takes a special kind of intellect to accomplish that.  We were all laughing and nodding our heads in agreement once she instructed us about how to look at certain things we had previously accepted.  She managed to speak about politics (she is infamously very left) and her view on it without sounding preachy, which is quite an accomplishment in today’s charged environment.


Though she does not tell jokes she is so quick witted that there will occasionally be a sentence with three of them in it.  You’ll laugh.  Even her frequent digressions end up being comedy gold.  Sometimes the ramblings were the funniest parts.  Another interesting thing about a Janeane Garofalo show is that they tend to be for all ages because she rarely indulges in off-colour jokes or language.  Because she comes off as one of us (okay a lot more intelligent than most of us, but you get what I mean) and very relatable it is easy to follow along with her way of thinking and end up liking her to boot.


Her raspy voice and pacing back and forth style really suit the cutting wit she brings to her comedy.  Like she is truly pissed off about what she is talking about.  Obviously, her style is not for everyone.  Some will be pissed off at the fact that she frequently refers to notes up on stage.  Seemingly all scatterbrained.  Some will enjoy the intelligence while others will be annoyed at the all overness of her sets.  You have to admit that lady has a way with words and knows how to turn a phrase.  What she has going for her in spades is that “it” factor.  She’s a charmer, engaging, fun and had won everyone over in the sold out crowd in short order.

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