Judge Kent Dixon did stand-up once. Those Boy Scouts can be so unkind!
Our review of Janeane Garofalo: If You Will (Blu-Ray), published October 6th, 2010, is also available.
"I guess I just prefer to see the dark side of things. The glass is always half empty. And cracked. And I just cut my lip on it. And chipped a tooth."…Janeane Garofolo
No one is spared her biting insights, least of all herself.
Promise you won't tell my wife I said this? I have a big crush on Janeane Garofolo. I think it's her delightful blend of a quick mind, a certain geek chic and the acerbic way she looks at life that has always struck a cord with me. Not to mention the fact that she's a threat on so many levels: comic, writer, producer, voice and on-screen actor and political activist. Oh yeah, and did I mention she's hot?
She first caught the attention of audiences in the '90s on The Ben Stiller Show, followed by The Larry Sanders Show, which landed her Emmy nominations in both 1996 and 1997. In the meantime, she also broke onto the big screen in 1994 in Reality Bites and with lead roles in The Truth About Cats & Dogs and The Matchmaker. We've seen far too little of her in recent years, aside from a lead voice role in Pixar's 2007 film Ratatouille, so I was delighted when If You Will hit me as a complete surprise.
In my opinion, Garofolo is at her best when she's free to riff on whatever topics cross her mind, and on a spring night in Seattle, she hit the stage before a sold-out crowd for her first stand-up performance in 10 years. Seinfeld, Romano, Williams…there are many great comics who have based their stand-up shtick on observational comedy, so can there really be that much material left to mine? Thankfully, the answer is a resounding "yes!" From Homeland Security and Brazilian grooming, to Natalie Portman and men's dry heels, Garofolo is rapid fire for the entire concert, keeping the audience laughing with very few gaps. The mood is almost palpable from the audience: she's back and they've missed her very much. While most of us watching the concert in our living rooms may not have been there live, we've got some of the best seats in the house and likely at a fraction of the price.
Here's another nice example of how good standard DVD can look when the time and effort is put into the release. If You Will looks great, especially for a relatively static concert performance. Ms. Garofolo stands out beautifully against the black background and her pink top practically jumps off the screen. Fine detail and contrast are solid, never dropping into muddiness as can often happen with video presentations that feature a relatively limited palette of blacks; the dark theater, dark stage and dimly-lit audience are always crisp and clear. The 5.1 audio mix answers back perfectly and is just right for a concert performance, with the performer anchored in the center channel and the audience reactions spilling through in the surrounds. If You Will is a solid, albeit far too short, concert experience.
The extra features include two short segments: "Janeane on Pets" starts with Garofolo in her apartment talking, then changes into a short sketch, and "Congressman's Dream" has Janeane as a guest of a fictional U.S. congressman on a radio show. Neither of these segments add much to the overall package, but the feature stands just fine on its own.
Garofolo's still got it and I can't recommend If You Will enough, especially to fans. If, like me, you've found that this concert has left you wanting more, you'll be delighted to know that Ms. Garofolo has joined the cast of the latest CBS spin-off Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. Did I mention the crush?
Case dismissed. Janeane…call me?
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