Straight Talk

Courtesy of Wide Photos

Funny girl Janeane Garofalo, the actress and stand-up comedienne, plays the Empire Theatre in San Antonio on February 1 and the Paramount Theatre in Austin on February 2.

You spent some time growing up in Houston, didn't you?
We were there on and off starting in the early seventies. My dad was an engineer for Exxon, and we moved back and forth between Houston and Elizabeth, New Jersey. I hated living in Houston. Most of the people had that unbelievably aggressive Texas pride—like, "Don't mess with Texas!" Dude, I wasn't saying anything anyway. Okay, you can keep your very unseasonably hot weather. I'm not making any bids on your arid plains.

Do you have fond memories of San Antonio or Austin?
I went to San Antonio as a kid, as a tourist. That's it. But I love Austin—I just love it. I've been there not just for stand-up but also as a visitor. I love the place—how it looks, all the things to do, great music, great food. I try to go every year. I'm already coming back this year, in March, because of the South by Southwest Film Festival.

One of your films is showing there.
Yeah. It's called The Search for John Gissing. I'm in it with Alan Rickman and Mike Binder from The Mind of the Married Man, the HBO series. Mike and I play a husband and wife who've moved to London. Mike takes the place of Alan's character at this company, so Alan sabotages us at every turn. It's a fish-out-of-water-esque comedy.

Have you found that it's harder to be funny these days, with everything going on in the world?
Closer to September 11 it was. It was not only a time when people weren't feeling like seeing comedy but also a time when cynicism didn't feel appropriate, criticism didn't feel appropriate. A lot of times after a tragedy of these proportions, cynicism falls on deaf ears. Which is bad for a stand-up comic: You can't come out onstage and say, "Hey, I look great, and I feel great about everything." That sentiment's not funny.

But now it's months later.
Look, it's never going to be funny to joke about the lives lost at the World Trade Center, but there are still things that have to be said about the news—especially when it's supposedly so unpatriotic to say anything negative. Now more than ever it's time for people like George Carlin to speak up.

(See Austin: Other Events and San Antonio: Other Events .)

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