Janeane Garofalo: Put A Pin In That | Edinburgh Fringe review by Paul Fleckney
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Janeane Garofalo: Put A Pin In That

Edinburgh Fringe review by Paul Fleckney

It’s often the biggest names who disappoint most. And not necessarily because of high expectations. Janeane Garofalo’s warning at the start of her show at the Gilded Balloon – that she doesn’t do jokes, filibustering is more her style – turns out to be a pre-emptive review. 

I should say that there were plenty of people who lapped up her every word – pre-existing fans, I guess – but for the Garofalo-curious it was a long hour. Not to mention a baffling one. 

The polar opposite of an international comedian coming to Britain and not adapting their set, is for them to overcompensate and talk about local references that no one here has thought about for 30 years. Somehow Garofalo managed to combine the two, so we ended up with a whole load of US references that left half the room in silence, and monologues on The Professionals and Lovejoy, two shows that aren’t exactly at the forefront of the collective British psyche. 

Her takes didn’t get much further than broad generalisations about how British TV has a lot of wry narrators, and how certain people are annoying. On this front, she does at least manage to briefly unite the room with the unoriginal take that tourists taking photos are not a good thing. 

All the signs point towards this being a work-in-progress show at its very early stages – the paper with notes on it, the rambling style where lots of subjects are touched upon but never with any depth… There’s nothing in the show literature to suggest it is work in progress, though, and tickets are £12 to £14. Occasionally something concrete made it through the fog, like a quick story about telling her neighbours to recycle better, but it never amounted to anything. Sometimes the thought or story isn’t even finished before she moves onto something else, never to return. To call it scattergun or impressionistic would be generous.

The lack of explanations was particularly irksome – so many brands or TV shows or shops were mentioned that needed just a bit of introducing (I had to hit Google pretty hard after the show), and she only laid that groundwork once, in a bit about how TK Maxx is called TJ Maxx in the US. I can only guess that Garofalo was so busy concentrating on the filibuster that she forgot to include us in the show.

This will sound like faint praise but I did enjoy her charisma as a performer and that she prowled around the Balloon’s Wine Bar room in a kind of freewheeling way as she spoke. She’s a comic you’d want to go for a beer with after the show. But honestly, this was the sight of a big name coasting, in what was mostly an exercise in time-filling.

Review date: 8 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Paul Fleckney
Reviewed at: Gilded Balloon

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