Janeane Garofalo Hated Her Puppet Character in ‘Team America’

‘They had my character say things like, ‘I just repeat what I read in the newspaper as my own opinion’’
Janeane Garofalo Hated Her Puppet Character in ‘Team America’

Like standup comedy where every single thing is funny and doesn't waste your time? Follow Cracked Comedy Club on Instagram and YouTube for exactly that. 

During the days of the Gulf War, the last thing comedian Janeane Garofalo wanted was to become a political pundit. On the other hand, staying quiet or trying to stake out neutrality — also known as the Jay Leno approach — seemed even worse. “Leno choosing not to take any position is just fear of not being well-liked,” she observed. “It’s just fear, straight up.” 

So Garofalo spoke her anti-war piece, and like all opinionated comics, she paid a price. While she never lost a stand-up gig, “it may have cost me television-wise,” she told Paul Provenza about a letter-writing campaign that coincided with her pilot getting the axe at ABC. The biggest hit Garofalo took came courtesy of fellow funny people Trey Parker and Matt Stone when they mocked her in Team America: World Police. Well, more than mocked — they blew her puppet head off. 

“I was angry. I was really angry,” she said. “They had my character say things like, ‘I just repeat what I read in the newspaper as my own opinion.’ First of all, that’s not at all what I did, and it infuriated me that that’s how Matt and Trey wanted to portray it. I was mocked for saying, ‘I don’t believe there are weapons of mass destruction. We’re being lied to.’” 

That’s on top of Garofalo listening to movie audiences cheer when her head was separated from her shoulders. Maybe Stone and Parker were mocking her stridency more than her politics, but that didn’t make her feel any better. “How else would I say it?” she argued. “Everything I said turned out to be exactly correct.”

Garofalo disagreed with one of the movie’s main premises — that people in the entertainment industry aren’t in a position to speak intelligently about political matters. It’s especially galling because “they are doing the exact same thing,” she explained. “They are in the entertainment industry positing their thoughts. There were tons of people —who were not women in the entertainment industry — saying the exact same thing I was saying.”

It’s a strange position for a comedian: being the target of mockery rather than the one doing the mocking. “If I was being satirized for something I thought was worthy of satire, that’s fine,” she said. “Being mocked for that particular thing made me angry. When I’m mocked for other things about my personality, I think it’s funny.”

Ultimately, Garofalo accused Parker and Stone of the fear she viewed in Leno: “What they are doing is not taking any position. In a way, they’re taking the coward’s way out: ‘We’re too cool for school.’”  

Garofalo has run into Parker and Stone over the years and expressed her displeasure, telling them the least they could do was send her a puppet. So far, they’ve neglected to do so. But there might be a silver lining about Garofalo’s appearance in Team America. “My puppet actually had a scene with George Clooney’s puppet,” she says, “which is, like, the highest I’ve ever been in show business.”


Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?