Standing in a line that started at the doors of Up Comedy Club and stretched three stories down to the ground floor of Pipers Alley—and that wasn’t moving even though those doors were supposed to have opened a half hour earlier—I realized I wasn’t exactly sure why I wanted to see Janeane Garofalo so much. I thought she was great in The Truth About Cats & Dogs and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, and I remember wishing I could get in to a sold-out performance she gave when I was in college. But I hadn’t heard much about her in the last ten years or so, and neither had any of the friends to whom I mentioned this TBS Just for Laughs show at Up Comedy.
Plenty of people obviously remember her, though. Up Comedy wasn’t just sold out but, from the looks of it, oversold. The organizers appeared to have crammed an extra row of chairs into the room, creating seating that was uncomfortably close to both the row ahead and the chairs on either side and that forced many of us to crane our necks to see. I was already tired and a little cranky because of the delayed start of the 11 PM show, and the crick I quickly developed in my neck didn’t help things.
Garofalo shared the bill with peripatetic stand-up Kyle Kinane, and a coin toss determined that she’d go first. As she started talking, I was reminded of an interview I’d come across in Vulture while trying to figure out what she’d been up to since the 90s. In it she talked about getting Botox, losing weight, and wearing Spanx, and somehow I still liked her. Garofalo doesn’t defend her actions—they’re just things she’s done. “I fucking sold out. That is absolutely a fact,” she told Vulture in response to a question about her weight loss. “I was heavier and it really gets you almost nowhere, you realize quickly.” One of the first bits in Garofalo’s JFL performance concerned an Allure magazine piece about Jessica Biel that claimed her beauty has hindered her career. “No one’s beauty has ever hindered their forward motion in entertainment,” Garofalo declared.