He may have a small following, but one fan is dedicated to recognizing the Gen X icon
Maybe you know her from Gen X cult films Reality Bites (1994), Wet Hot American Summer (2001) or Now and Then (1995). Or it could be her TV work on The Larry Sanders Show, which got her an Emmy nomination. Maybe you’ve heard her in animations such as Kiki’s Delivery Service (1997) or Ratatouille (2007). Most likely, you’ve seen her as Heather Mooney, dribbling beer down her front while making fun of the star footballer in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997). But at any mention of Janeane Garofalo, many people would respond, “Who?”
David Larrabee is trying to change that. The 29-year-old superfan runs the Twitter fan account @thegarofaholic, as well as the subreddit dedicated to the comedian and actress. Both places post a mix of news, clips of her performances and even what should happen to her characters. “Dream for @WetHot this season or next: Beth gets her wig pulled off Valley Of The Dolls style,” he tweeted this past week. As the actress isn’t the busiest – she’s currently in Marvin’s Room on Broadway – these dispatches are sandwiched in between random retweets and thoughts from Larrabee about a lot of things.
“I always knew about her and her work, so I just decided to start an account, as she has, in her words, ‘No web presence’,” Larrabee, 29, says. At press time, the Twitter account has 749 follows. The subreddit has 25 subscribers. Paltry following aside, Larrabee’s not deterred. “Many people have fan accounts for lesser known character actresses, so I don’t think this is much of a stretch. Plus, more people will be aware of who she is and her work. I often get a lot of, ‘Oh that’s who that was, she’s great!’”
“Many people have fan accounts for lesser known character actresses, so I don’t think this is much of a stretch. I often get a lot of, ‘Oh that’s who that was, she’s great!’” – David Larrabee
He adds, “A few people who were too young to remember her in the 90s have discovered her through my account.” One fun thing about Janeane Garofalo is her official website, whose design likely hasn’t been updated since before the advent of MySpace. (The site’s content, however, is curiously up to date as far as last year). “Janeane is an outspoken activist and tours the country as a stand-up comedian. She was instrumental in the successful launching of the first liberal radio network, Air America Radio, where she hosted her own talk show, ‘The Majority Report’. A lightning rod for controversy, Janeane’s well-informed opinions and unflinching honesty have inspired laughs as well as striking a chord with the left, right and everyone in between. She is a noted peace activist,” a portion of her bio reads.
Garofalo is an amazing actress, best known for her dry sense of humour and Daria-esque delivery of lines. But that’s not what initally captured Larrabee’s fascination. “I was drawn to her hair,” he admits. “It’s long, lustrous and black. (I have a thing for hair, wigs, and wig gags). More importantly, I was drawn to her style, it stood out from everybody else. No one can duplicate what she does; it’s naturally all her.”
The name for his account, @thegarofaholic, came from a fan forum for the actress, a “nickname given to the forum members.” It was active from the early 2000s to about 2011, Larrabee recalls. A long study of her career has thrown up a few things that surprised even Larrabee. “People would be surprised that she’s a fan of The Monkees, in an unironic sense. She had a crush on Mike Nesmith,” he says. “I was also surprised to find out about her struggles with anxiety.” Garofalo was also randomly married for 20 years without knowing it. She married Rob Cohen, a writer on The Ben Stiller Show, where she worked in the early 90s. The pair got hitched at a Vegas wedding chapel as a joke. Not until 2012, when Cohen tried to get married to another woman, did both he and Garofalo realize they were wedded. They got the marriage annuled.
All fun facts aside, it’s mostly about the work for Larrabee. As an avid watcher of all things Garofalo, Larrabee has some deep cuts to recommend in the actresses decades-spanning career. “I love her role as David Schwimmer’s wife in Duane Hopwood, because you could feel for her as she struggle to raise her kid while dealing her husband’s alcoholism,” he says. “I also like her role in The Truth About Cats And Dogs, because it shows the shallow nature of lookism and its effect on women in society (as well as Hollywood).”
Despite having a fairly anaemic online presence, Larrabee says he’ll be at it as long as there is a Garofalo to share news about. It’s unclear whether Garofalo has ever come across the account – our guesses would be no – but had she discovered it, how does Larrabee think she’d react? “She'd probably be extremely flattered, but also would say that I’m giving her too much credit and possibly to get a life.”