Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Truth in Comedy.

The other day Megan told me that I should update many times a day so that people will keep coming back to read my blog. I was like, "I barely have anything interesting to say once a day, five days a week! How can I update several times in one day?!" I mean, sure, it's great for procrastination. (I fucked up my Sudoku this morning and whenever I realize I've made a mistake, I give up. I also get angry and scratch all over the puzzle. Today I wrote, "Fuck you!!!" and "I hate Sudoku!!!" all over it.) But seriously, my daily statistics have dropped under 100 visitors a day for the first time in a month and a half, so either people have stopped being interested in huge labias and big old hairy vaginas, or I've started to alienate my readers with long posts about off-Broadway musicals. I figure I can make amends by talking about regular stuff occasionally, too.

Last night I saw Janeane Garofalo at a theater three blocks from my house. It was pretty much one of the top five greatest things to ever happen to me, ever. I may have already talked about this here before, but back in 1997, Janeane had an HBO comedy special which I taped and watched repeatedly for years. I still have this tape, but no longer have a VCR. (Fun fact! Say Anything is on the same tape, and I hate that movie, but I was too afraid to record over it because I didn't want to risk screwing up and taping over Janeane.) Anyway, her 1997 one-hour special pretty much defined major parts of my life. For example, I credit her for instigating my own journey away from religion. It was the first time, really, that I thought about religion in a negative way and how it, as a social construct, is just a silly thing. She brought this up in the context of the crises in the Middle East and many factions fighting over the "books of religion," and it pretty much amounted to people in this country fighting over Grisham novels, or "declaring The Bridges of Madison County sacred whereupon nobody builds." To a fourteen year old with a crush on a disaffected thirty-something actress who just happened to be in his favorite movie of all time (Reality Bites, natch), it was quite the mind-blowing experience.

I still quote from this tape, ten years later, and it's fun because I can sort of pass-off her jokes as my own because, honestly, who remembers Janeane Garofalo bits from 1997? I love how topical they can be; for example, in her criticism of summer blockbuster movies, she said, "I think we all remember where we were the day rush hour hit the water. That was an important day." (SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL REFERENCE!) But sometimes, her soundbites come in handy. Whenever Christina is down about Some Dude and she's all, "WHY DON'T I HAVE A BOYFRIEND?!?!," I think of the final bit of Janeane's routine. She tells us that, after her boyfriend broke up with her on the phone, therefore forcing her to obsessively check her voicemail several times a day and expecting the apologetic message begging for forgiveness, she hired Wilford Brimley to record the greeting when she logs on. "Kiddo," he says, "if he can't see how special you are, he oughta have his HEAD EXAMINED." It always cheers Christina up when I tell her that, too.

The parts I remember most, of course, are those in which Janeane recounts her own history of romantic disappointment. She talks about recently seeing Chasing Amy (remember: 1997) and being so angry at the scene where Ben Affleck professes his love to Joey Lauren Adams, "the baby-voiced lesbian." She says, "That will never happen to me. If someone told me they loved me, it would just make me not like them. Be aloof! What's your problem? You want me to like you? Don't pick up that damn phone!" As an awkward teenager harboring secret crushes, I UNDERSTOOD. I refused to tell anyone how I felt about them for fear of rejection. And now, as I'm blossoming out of my decade-long awkward stage and becoming, I guess, somewhat attractive (question mark?), I get it, because I don't want people just telling me they LIKE ME. I'm so used to having to WORK for it. LET ME FIGHT FOR YOU. IT'S ALL I'VE EVER KNOWN.

And of course, there's my favorite quote, taken directly from Wikiquote (thank God for the Internets): "Everybody else seems to find a soulmate, have you noticed that? Everybody else seems to be able to make it happen, and I'm talking about even people-- Okay. I can't make it happen yet somehow Chang and Eng, the Siamese twins attached to the chest, and Stephen Hawking, and the Shine guy, and that kid who shot his face off are all happily married and breeding. And I don't want to sound like a dick about this, but come on! I mean, these people have sex! And uhm, not only that, but Chang and Eng fathered, like, nine and ten kids a piece. While being attached to the chest. And I know that the ladies as a rule are tolerant. I know this about the female sex; if they like the guy, they're tolerant. But we are really pushing the envelope here with Stephen Hawking and the guy who shot his face off."

Clearly, Janeane Garofalo is my patron saint of comedy. Seriously, I think I base what I think is funny on her delivery and self-deprecation. I think the rule here is that if I make fun of myself before everyone else does, it's okay; I might as well beat everyone to the punch.


Erica said...

I'll be honest, I didn't get through this whole post. But I saw that you hate "Say Anything" and I am devastated. It is my favorite movie of all time. I hope our blog relationship survives this Tyler. You better say something nice about John Cusack, and FAST.

Anonymous said...

I am a random person who has found your blog through others, etc. While I no longer read the blogs that led me to you, I am stoked (sorry, I live in CA) every morning I check yours and there's a new post.

If you updated more, I would get less work done and find it harder to contain my sudden laughter at the things you say. Not such a bad thing . . .


Chris said...

I'd stick up for Say Anything...if it had any redeeming qualities.

Tyler said...


Identity was good? I guess?

Anonymous Californian:

I'm stoked that you're stoked.

Kelly said...

I assume you already saw this piece about your Lady Love, but I'll link anyway:

MysticalChicken said...

I found this while Googling "saw Janeane". I have the 1997 HBO special burned onto CD from back when I had Napster, but for some reason the last few seconds are cut off, so I never knew what Wilford Brimley said. Thanks for posting that. I'm a huge Janeane Garofalo fan, and recently saw her perform live as well (for the second time). I also have burned DVDs of her early-90s performances, short films, some talk-show appearances, political appearances, and specials that another fan mailed to me. I watch them all about once a month.