Comedian, actor, writer, and political activist Janeane Garofalo called from a Los Angeles hotel, where she was staying while filming the CBS police drama “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior.”
Q: Do you remember what your earliest professional dream was?
A: To be George Carlin. Just to be George Carlin. And also to meet and marry Bill Murray. That was an early one.
Q: Well, I would say you’ve failed.
A: Yeah, I never did marry Bill Murray. I did get to meet him, which was a delight, and he’s a very nice man. But you know what it was? I thought it was a safeguard against an unhappy life. To tell you the truth, I didn’t understand that, fully, that people that were in comedy are just like anyone else. And it’s not like I had a miserable childhood, I didn’t. It was just very garden-variety. I guess the main thing is nothing happened. A whole lot of nothing happened. And I also was, and still am in a lot of ways, frightened of life.
Q: That answers my follow-up question, which is what happened when you found out that it wasn’t the safeguard you had fantasized it would be?
A: Well, nothing, because there is no plan B. So that’s that. But it has safeguarded me. I always knew I never wanted to be married, have children, live in the suburbs, own a home, because I also thought not doing those things would be a safeguard against some of the pitfalls of family life. And again, I did not have a terrible childhood, I am not saying poor me, but there were definitely elements to it I would not want to repeat. So, in my child’s mind I thought, “Here’s what you do so you don’t have to do that. Don’t ever be married, don’t ever own a home. Don’t have a yard.” All these things I thought would be a safeguard against a repetition of certain aspects of my past, which were not very happy. And then I thought, “And you surround yourself with comedy people.” That’s the answer. I know that seems terribly ridiculous.
Q: I can see how to a young mind that it might make certain sense.
A: It just seemed like that’s the only way to break a pattern. And in some ways that’s got to be true. I don’t own a home, I’m not married, I don’t have children, so that has allowed me to avoid certain things I was afraid of repeating. But then that brings it to a whole other thing where you go, “What if? What should I have?” All that kind of stuff. But I think I’m fairly certain that was absolutely the right decision for me not to ever marry and have children. I mean, I live with my boyfriend of 12 years, so I guess we’re common-law married. But both of us have never wanted to have children or be married.