On Tuesday, I participated in one of the most unfortunate rites of passage of the higher-higher-education world- the Graduate Record Examination. My experience at Greensboro’s fine Prometric Testing Center was complete with unflattering flourescent lights, obligatory pocket-emptying, lockers, outdated and pixelated computer screens and closed circuit televions vigilantly monitoring each test takers’ every twitch. Prior to taking the test, I spent hours of my time, memorizing, quizzing myself and enlisting my friends to quiz me on my GRE vocab words- a list of about 300 ridiculous and unnecessary words irrelevant to my life. Or so I thought! Turns out Janeane Garafolo studied for the GRE too and incorporated a bevy of these vocabs words into her most recent stand-up show: Janeane Garafalo: If You Will: Live in Seattle. So how appropos that I chose this Netflix Instant option as my first post-GRE flick. Janeane sprinkles her routine with words like alacrity, luddite, ubiquitous, cursory and effrontery. But I guess she likes big words and I shouldn’t hold that against her- I’m still a little senstive to advanced vocab used by the erudite crowd.
ANYWAY, enough about me- overall I liked the show. There are definitely a number of solid jokes- mostly of the self-deprecating breed- including highlighting a review of her which termed her as a “compact elder lesbian” (how could that not be funny?). Janeane uses her trademark dry/depressed Reality Bites-esque humor without sounding dated. She definitely airs out some baggage- her struggles with alcoholism and overeating, sexual abuse, body image and her transformation from religious fanatic to atheist- but I guess comics are always airing out their baggage in their stand-up shows, so it doesn’t really feel out of place. Janeane presents this material nonchalantly in a way that makes you laugh and kind of cringe at the same time.
I LOVE stand-up (talk to me, Sarah Silverman), so if you don’t, I wouldn’t recommend it because Janeane’s show didn’t knock my socks off. It definitely didn’t leave me with the feeling of “LOLOL ROFLMAO!”- which is kind of what I look for in a stand-up routine, but maybe that’s not her goal for the viewer anyway.
That being said, I think that it’s important to address issues like sexual abuse, addiction and crises of faith publicly- hey, chances are, you’ve somehow been affected by at least one of those too. So I appreciate Janeane for “outing herself” that way (no, not as a compact elder lesbian). At the very least, I welcomed Janeane into my kitchen, keeping me company with her well-calculated wit and crass honesty while I washed a few days’s worth of dishes that I had put off so I could study for the GRE instead.
And P.s. She’s also a really rad activist and feminist, so I’m partial.