Janeane Garofalo

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

It’s Janeane Garofalo’s last night at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, and she says she’s had a whale of a time. She seems sincere too – not only is she far from the sort of comic who’s desperate to ingratiate herself with every town she plays, but her whole relaxed, playful performance suggests this is someone having a ball.

‘It’s my first time here, and I didn’t know what to expect,’ she admits; and I don’t think Australia did, either. The description of her show in the official festival programme, which she professes to have had no hand in, billed her as a fierce, left-wing political comedian, a ‘lightning rod for controversy’.

While she has been outspoken, anyone expecting angry polemic would have gone away disappointed. But were you in the market for frank, funny and self-deprecatingly personal anecdotes, plus some broadly topical observations about her experiences of Melbourne, then she would fit the bill perfectly. She talks about her demons, addictions and self-loathing with a casual honesty that can only draw the audience in.

In terms of structure, the hour is rather ramshackle, flitting from topic to topic – but while that deprives the show of impact, it suits Garofalo’s unaffected, unfussed demeanour to the ground. In scruffy sleeveless top and denim shorts, she looks – and acts – as if we’ve surprised her too early one morning, and is now holding court, ad hoc, in her lounge clothes. That she sometimes skuttles down the aisle to talk to us more directly adds to the intimate feel.

The persona’s a world apart from her most famous role, as grumpily acerbic booker Paula in the Larry Sanders Show, and the political hard-hitter we’d been led to expect. But a fine hour of stand-up in anyone’s books.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2009

Review date: 1 Jan 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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