Janeane Garofalo takes to the stage with the attention span of a butterfly, flitting between unfinished sentences and interesting people. She adores the hair and eyebrows of a family sitting together, and almost envies but corrects herself in time some other aspect of another in the crowd. She was going to tell us about the massive accidental dreadlock she’s been battling in her hair since the 4th of July, but has taken herself off stage to walk in the dark amongst us. “I am incapable of getting to the point,” she shares in the first five minutes. And she’s not wrong.
Claiming to have not written a great joke since 1985, the show is very much like the handful of papers in her hand that hold the limited localised material she has put together since arriving: you can see the outline but it’s not ordered and a little sketchy. Which is a shame as the few patches glimpsed when she is writing with her full focus are engaging and entertaining. As she acts out her rebellion at the vapid selfie-takers on the Brooklyn Bridge, and gently mocks herself as “the walking woman” of the outer boroughs, there’s a connection and a clarity that make these real gems.
However, it really doesn’t help that a lot of her references are American or specialist, and no or little time has been taken to explain them. It’s confusing and distancing, which is again a shame as Garofalo comes across as such an interesting and genuinely decent person who doesn’t wish to offend anyone.
She’s a great one for epigrams, dropping perfectly coined phrases occasionally that stay with you. But with no further expansion, and a train of thought that sometimes even she cannot follow, it’s just not enough.
I would love to see a live audience with this lady, or even her interviewed on stage by a host. She has such tales and vivacity that if only these were ordered there would be an excellent show to be had. “My neuroplasticity isn’t good,” she admits. And even though her focus and concentration may not be what they were, these are beauties of humour she’s chasing with her wandering attention.
Janeane Garofalo:Pardon My Tangent
19.15 Gilded Balloon Teviot, Wine Bar, 3-28 (except 15th) August 2022