Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Janeane Garofalo: If You Will

"I do try like hell to not be ashamed. But, sometimes I am, I have to admit," says New Jersey-born comedienne, actress and activist, Janeane Garofalo. We've been talking for close to 45 minutes - mostly about TV, politics, the media, and the toxicity of contemporary pop culture. As I switch the tape recorder off and the conversation winds down, we briefly discuss what Garofalo herself turns to in order to unwind, which is the source of her current state of angst.

"Sometimes I fall dreadfully short, behavior-wise, activity-wise. Sometimes I'll watch bad television, sometimes I'll read crappy magazines and I'm ashamed, because I've done it," she admits. The New York resident, who recently released a new stand up DVD entitled If You Will, is currently living outside of her comfort zone in a Los Angeles hotel while filming the Criminal Minds spin-off Suspect Behavior (which also stars Academy Award winning actor Forest Whitaker).

Like crack down a pipe, The Young and the Restless is coming down the cable into her hotel room, and Garofalo is unable to resist her nightly SOAPnet fix. "I discovered it when I started staying here two months ago. And I have been falling asleep to it," she reveals when asked about her "guilty pleasures" (my words not hers).

Though a daytime drama might just be a pleasant - if unsubstantial - distraction for anyone else, for the earnestly politically correct Garofalo it's a matter of personal integrity. "If I'm going to be falling asleep, I should be reading," says the Air America alum, who doesn't want to be guilty of denigrating the work of fellow actors by using my "guilty pleasure" phrase, nor of indulging in the potentially socially toxic material we've previously been discussing.

"I do feel guilt and it is my pleasure," adds Garofalo, who it seems is constantly torn between her desire to fix society and her need to participate in it - flaws and all. Holding herself to impossible standards of moral perfection may be the source of undue anxiety, but Garofalo's awareness of her own - and our culture's - shortcomings brings sharp social commentary to her humor, and makes for an illuminating conversation - which, after a little small talk, soon turns to topics that carry more gravitas than glasses.

Read my exclusive interview with Janeane Garofalo on

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