Category Archives: comedy

janeane garafalo definitely studied for the gre

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fine Prometric Testing Center was complete with unflattering flourescent lights, obligatory pocket-emptying, lockers, outdated and pixelated computer screens and closed circuit televions vigilantly monitoring each test takers’ every twitch.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.

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these are my top 10. what are yours?

In my humble opinion, these movies (in no particular order) are the brightest of the Netflix Instant gems- that I have found so far!

1. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Edward Albee’s irreverence coupled with Elizabeth Taylor’s alcoholic rage may not sound like a pleasant way to spend over 2 hours watching black and white BUT TRUST ME- YOU’LL LOVE IT. The acting, the lighting, the writing, the directing, blah, blah, blah- I could go on. A must must must see.

2. The Lady Eve: If you like movies from the 1940s, then you’ve probably seen it. If you don’t, well maybe you’ll start liking movies from the 1940s by watching this one. A comedy that keeps the viewer interested mostly because Barbara Stanwyck is so sexy and gets so sassy.

3. Easy Street: Small scale documentary made in 2006 depicting the lives of several homeless folks in St. Petersburg, Florida. Provides an honest interpretation of the realities of homelessness- including the roles that addiction and mental illness play.

4. Sin Nombre: This is a emotionally intense and aesthetically beautiful thriller that pieces together the story of several characters trying to make it from Central America to the good ol’ U.S. of A. In Spanish with English subtitles. Definitely was a tearjerker for me- more because it is such a vivid reminder of how heartbreaking the tales of immigration often are.

5. Fargo: I don’t think I’m qualified to write a review on this movie. Dad, can you help me out?

6. The Messenger: Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster LAY IT DOWN in this unforgettable movie about two current-day U.S. soldiers whose job is to notify families of killed soldiers. Definitely not a date night movie, but don’t let that stop you. Emotionally sophisticated, poignant, thought-provoking. Oh yeah, and Steve Buscemi’s cameo doesn’t hurt.

7. Tarnation: Another one that definitely shouldn’t be put on the “date night” list- unless you like your dates really disturbing. Tarnation is a documentary filmed over the course of almost 20 years, made up of a mixture of home videos, voicemail messages, early short films and snapshots–all depicting the life of filmmaker Jonathan and his oh so schizophrenic mother. The music is really great as well. Overall very powerful, although the pacing is a little strange. But I give him credit- he made it on a budget of $218.32, editing the entire thing on iMovie on his Mac. And now you can rent it at Blockbuster. Or watch it on Netflix Instant as the case may be.

8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Hmm, if my audience is who I think it is, you’ve probably seen this. Now you get to watch it again on Instant.

9. Amelie: If you all haven’t figured it out yet, that tiny little icon next to the site address for this blog is actually an image of Amelie’s head from the part of the movie where she is at the movie theater glued to the screen. ANYWAY, the film Amelie is such an aesthetic experience so my words probably won’t do much good. So go have a look-see.

10. Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic: Not for the easily offended, for those who don’t appreciate/understand satire, or for those who think offensive satire perpetuates societal ills. Sarah jam packs her absurd stand-up comedy/spontaneous musical numbers with the most taboo of topics- and looks cute while doing it! AND IT’S HYSTERICAL. I think she’s a genius.

What are your Top 10 Netflix Instant finds?