The Ben Stiller Show  

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Cast of Characters


When selecting a comedienne to be the only female cast member, Ben Stiller knew he had to find an exceptional talent. Locating a woman who could hold her own opposite Stiller, without falling prey to tokenism, is not a simple task in sketch comedy. "Saturday Night Live" has been criticized for misusing some promising female comics over the years, but at least they tried. Other troupes, such as "Monty Python" or "The Kids in the Hall" are entirely male. The fact remains that there is a widely held, but completely unspoken, belief that women just aren't as funny as men.

That myth was shattered when Janeane Garofalo won a place in the cast of "The Ben Stiller Show". Armed with a dry sense of humor and a lightning wit, Garofalo was completely in sync with Stiller's unique brand of comedy. From the first moment she appears--as the retainer-wearing Juliette Lewis in the "Cape Fear" parody- Garofalo stakes her claim as a terrific mimic and gifted comedienne. As the weeks progressed, Garafalo would get the opportunity to play everything from Demi Moore to a time-traveling high school student.

Post- "Stiller", Garofalo continued to steal scenes in every project. As the 70s obsessed Gap Manager Vicki in Stiller's "Reality Bites", Garofalo walked off with most of the best lines and rave reviews. Shortly thereafter, she made a huge impression with a small role as the blind date with a hairball in "Bye, Bye Love". She also snagged a recurring role as "Paula the sour talent booker" on HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show". She appeared briefly on "Saturday Night Live" in the fall of 1994, but politely bowed out after a few weeks. Her next project is scheduled to be "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" with Uma Thurman. Described as a female version of the classic tale "Cyrano deBergerac", Garofalo is cast as a radio talk-show host who asks her friend Thurman to pose as her when a hopeful suitor becomes enchanted by her voice.

Like Stiller, much of Garofalo's' appeal lies in her self-depreciating sense of humor. Short and cute, Garofalo gains a lot of mileage out of the fact she doesn't resemble the typical Hollywood starlet. On "Larry Sanders," her character is in a perpetually dark mood and spends a great deal of time obsessing about her weight. And as host of Comedy Central's "Comedy Product," she once told the audience: "I smell bad as a rule" and proceeded to describe the scent as that of "utter defeat." Performing stand-up in her HBO special, she threw herself on the ground when the audience cheered her, shouting: "If you do that, I just don't know how to handle it." Even those who aren't familiar with Garofalo's talent seem to quickly become converts. One girl in my focus group, who had never seen Garofalo before became instantly taken with her after about thirty seconds. "What else has she been in?" she asked. "She seems so...real."

It's this same down-to-earth quality that has elevated Garofalo to almost icon status among many young women. She remains one of the few women who every man I know wants to date and every girl I know wants to be. And anyone who thinks Garofalo's jaded self-image is just for her act, consider the name she gave her production company: "I Hate Myself".

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