He's the crew-cut, workaholic ex-punk rocker of Black Flag fame who pumps iron, writes books, performs for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, hosts his own Independent Film Channel talk show and deejays once a week for L.A. FM station Indie 103.1.
She's a self-described slacker homebody obsessed with beadwork and practiced in the art of self-deprecation who five years ago caught flack for taking a hiatus from her acerbic comedy stylings to become an outspoken antiwar activist.
Odd couple Henry Rollins and Janeane Garofalo bonded last summer over their shared disaffection with the Bush administration and have now teamed up with comedian Marc Maron for an evening of impassioned storytelling titled "It's Not a Play and There's No Music." The triple bill played this month in New York and opens Tuesday at the Silent Movie Theatre with a straight-ahead format: three expert talkers performing three solo monologues.
Garofalo, who also appears weekly as resident curmudgeon on "The Henry Rollins Show" (8 p.m. Fridays on IFC), initially hoped "Not a Play" would include some onstage interplay. "I was thinking we would interact more. This is actually not different from what I have been doing," she says, checking in by phone from her home in New York. Asked to set the scene, she blurts, "I'm wearing just a barrel and suspenders, nothing else, because money is tight right now. Also, there's a small fire and I'm roasting a frankfurter on a stick."
"Well, at least you're off pigeons," mutters Rollins, dressed as usual in T-shirt, janitor pants and track shoes as he sprawls in a rolling chair surrounded by CDs and books packed into his Hollywood Boulevard office.
Back to "Not a Play": "It did not come together the way I'd seen it in my mind," Garofalo continues. "Henry, Marc and I are all very similar in how we process information when we are being infantilized by the media and the government. I thought it would be nice for the audience if we were all three together onstage."
Rollins says, "It certainly could go south on you."
Garofalo: "Yeah, it could, but that's part of the excitement."
Rollins: "Maybe we could have met for a weekend beforehand and hashed out some ideas and stuff."
Garofalo: "It wasn't supposed to be hashed out. It was supposed to be extemporaneous."
As things turned out, Garofalo, Rollins and Maron had no rehearsals. They simply did a sound check, opened the doors to Manhattan's Gramercy Theatre and individually let it rip. Rollins says, "What makes the bill interesting is you have three people who are funny at times but who use different ways to enter into that house. The idea is for the audience to go away with a well-rounded evening."
For her opening slot, Garofalo plans to go for laughs -- most of the time. Her earnest antiwar sentiments led to a talk-radio gig on liberal network Air America but didn't translate well to live performance, she says. "There was a stretch of time in 2002 and 2003 when I was soul sick over what was happening in the geopolitical world and felt it would be somewhat of a compromise of everyone's dignity if I were to do straight stand-up. I tried to add more serious stuff, and it went over like a lead balloon."
Garofalo endured attacks from the right during that period. "It was a disaster in a lot of ways: so much criticism, publicly, privately, unsolicited, solicited. There were nights where I had to be squired out the back of the theater or hidden in the office, nights where I could not go on until certain people were removed. After I left Air America, some of that lifted, and I found I really enjoyed some of the sillier aspects of doing stand-up."
Armed as usual with notes scribbled on a legal pad, she'll mine humor from her technophobe-and-proud-of-it distaste for Digital Age conveniences, Garofalo says. "I'm a neo-Luddite. I don't use a computer, nor do I have e-mail. I don't have a BlackBerry. I don't have an iPod. So I talk about that, I talk about making jewelry, I talk about beads, I talk about not having any social life, what-so-\o7ever\f7."
Maron, an L.A.-based comedian and longtime Garofalo colleague formerly employed at Air America, takes the middle slot.
Rollins closes "Not a Play" with sobering observations culled from his travels to foreign war zones, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel. "I just got back from a bunch of different countries, so I've been fleshing out different aspects of this idea night to night," he says. "I came up with new components today watching a psychotic homeless man running down the street near Hollywood High. That'll probably be Night 1. My recent trip to Iran -- I'll probably have that in the set."