Janeane Garofalo was a capriciously funny figure Friday night at Toronto's Queen Elizabeth Theatre. At times she was laid back, whimsical, enjoying positive back-and-forth dialogue with her audience — particularly funny for their lack of canned humour. Other times she was a cantankerous preacher, a political firebrand. Either way, Garofalo was always talking a mile a minute, launching off into separate jokes and trains of thought often before finishing the subject at hand. It could have been annoying had she not had such a wealth of solid material up her sleeves — and presumably on the notes she had on stage with her, which were given curiously little attention.
Garofalo knows a lot about Canada and didn't shy away from flaunting it. References ranged from Sloan, Kensington Market, and the last Tragically Hip concert to Stephen Harper-era finance minister Jim Flaherty.
In all ways except for her close rapport with her audience, most of Garofalo's material revolved around her "lean away" approach to life and the world around her. Whether talking about not going to the doctor, not getting married, not having social media, not bothering to try to survive a zombie uprising, not buying into crazes, procrastinating, going outside during the day — the list goes on. There's a lot of stuff Janeane Garofalo does not want to do. She's the early Ramones of comedy. Speaking of the Ramones, she even had a tangent about cooks who want to be "bad boys," trying to look like Henry Rollins or Ian MacKaye. Janeane Garofalo is a punk!
She has no sympathy at all for Trump voters, whether they regret it or not. They are — according to her — not the average hardworking, decent Americans that articles so placatingly claim. Decency doesn't even enter the picture. She is of the opinion — at least on stage — that flood and hurricane victims who voted for Trump and deny climate change and dislike paying for social services should be left to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and swim.
Perhaps more than anything, Garofalo came across as genuine and authentic. She was typically shameless, unapologetic, likable and hilarious. It seemed like she enjoyed the show at least as much as her audience did, as she had no qualms with going over her time — having not realized she was doing so, save for the stage manager's waving from the wings.