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She turned down the role of television reporter Gale Weathers in Wes Craven's Scream because she thought the film would be too violent: "I said I didn't want to be in a movie where a teen girl was disemboweled.
I didn't know it turned out so good, and it was a funny movie." Garofalo had been David Fincher's first choice for the role of Marla Singer in the film Fight Club, but she turned it down, uncomfortable with the film's unusual sexual content (Fincher later noted that she was "uncomfortable with the idea of all this sex"), and Helena Bonham Carter eventually accepted the part.
A puppet version of Garofalo appeared (and was graphically killed off) in the 2004 movie Team America: World Police; while Garofalo was irritated by the parody, she was more upset by the filmmaker's lack of correspondence.
"I ran into them in the street, Trey and the other guy, and I said to them, 'The least you could do is send me a puppet.' And they said OK, took my address down ... So while Team America bothered me, the fact they didn't send me my puppet, that bothered me even more." In 2005, she played the ex-wife of a man coping with the reverberations of a divorce in Duane Hopwood.
They bonded over their "love of SCTV, early Saturday Night Live, and Albert Brooks." Her first exposure on national television came soon thereafter by way of her appearance as a stand-up comic on MTV's Half Hour Comedy Hour.