Where you know Janeane Garofalo from tells people a lot about who you are.
If you know her primarily as Winona Ryder’s spunky friend in “Reality Bites,” you’re probably old. If you know her from “The Larry Sanders Show,” you’re probably pretty hip (but also old). If you know her from her more recent roles on “24,” “The West Wing” or “Criminal Minds,” you’re probably my parents.
Point is, Garofalo’s had a long, varied career, especially when you consider that Hollywood’s never really known what to do with her. Her Wikipedia page is a dizzying series of near-misses, from an early role as Jerry Seinfeld’s dream girl on “Seinfeld” (she only lasted two episodes), to turning down lead roles in “Scream” and “Fight Club,” to being dumped from “Jerry Maguire” at the last minute for Renee Zellweger. You’re left with the feeling that Garofalo should’ve been way bigger than she was, a potential star always stuck playing the spunky sidekick.
Still, she hasn’t done badly for herself.
Not only is she one of the few celebrities whose voice you can hear in your head the moment you hear their name, but she’s making her Kennedy Center debut this weekend.
Judging from her past performances, you can expect a lot of droll political commentary, some asides about her asexuality and plenty of meandering digressions, though maybe not many actual jokes. In her most recent comedy special, Garofalo tells a story about a man who came up to her after one performance and said, “I enjoyed your talk.”
That sounds pretty good, though; most anybody can craft a setup and a punchline, but only Garofalo can pull off Garofalo.
Janeane Garofalo, 7-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW; tickets $29-39.