Thursday, March 8, 2007

It's easy to forget that actress-comedian Janeane Garofalo wasn't always considered the first choice for talk show hosts in search of a liberal political critic unafraid to voice her opinions in the strongest terms, so often has she appeared on the small screen as a critic of the Bush administration.

Before becoming a voice of political outrage, Garofalo had developed, beginning as a student at Providence College in Rhode Island in the late 1980s, a style of self-deprecating and observational humor that focused not so much on politics as on life's little absurdities and on her own imperfections. She famously described her pessimistic world view in her act: "The glass is always half-empty. And cracked. And I just cut my lip on it. And chipped a tooth."

She appeared often on television comedy programs including "The Ben Stiller Show" and "Saturday Night Live" and earned two Emmy nominations for her supporting role on HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show." Garofalo also received high marks from critics for lead roles in feature films including "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" and "The Matchmaker" and for numerous smaller roles in such films as "Reality Bites."

Garofalo's liberal political views were never a secret. But during the run-up to the war in Iraq, she began finding herself more often invited to share her opinions about what she saw as the failures of conservative leaders in the government. Her criticism of the war in Iraq and of the Bush administration's policies eventually led to a turn as co-host of Air America Radio's "The Majority Report."

Garofalo has said in interviews that she thinks her invitations (and those made to other liberal figures from the entertainment industry) to appear on television shows with conservative viewpoints are designed to make it easier for critics to reject progressive political positions. It is easier to dismiss a celebrity's thoughts as coming from someone who can be characterized as elitist and out of touch, Garofalo contends.

Still, she has continued to put her name and face out there as someone critical of the direction in which the country is being led and has absorbed the verbal blows from detractors who have called her unpatriotic and an abettor of the United States' enemies.

It's probably a safe bet, with tickets about $30 a pop, Garofalo will have an audience of friends rather than foes when she performs her stand-up Tuesday at the State Theatre. Fans of her acerbic humor may be hoping that the comedian has something special in store for an audience that lives in such propinquity to the powers she has repeatedly targeted.


The State Theatre is at 220 N. Washington St., Falls Church. Tickets are $27.50. For more information, call 703-237-0300 or visit

© 2007 The Washington Post Company