Joe: "Dude. That was a little harsh."

Lisa: "Oh what. So now you want a piece of me, is that it?"

Joe: "No…not at all."

Lisa: "Good."

Joe: [to Beth] "I always knew she’d ask me that question some day. I just didn’t think it’d be in that tone."

("Chock" [4-11])


"Your last name’s Garelli?"

                   – various characters, various episodes

 

Joe Rogan possessed the second most physical acting style of the cast, and I found his expressive hand movements always a delight to watch. In the early days of the show it was too easy for myopic television journalist-critics to overlook the strength of Rogan’s acting. One writer even called him a "Tony Danza wannabe," a misjudgment that, to his credit, the writer amended in a later article. Once you realize how fantastic Rogan’s timing was or how fully realized was his character Joe Garelli do you come to appreciate his skills as a comedic actor. Joe was the balancing force of the cast. He could be well adjusted to counterbalance the antics of Matthew or Bill (and he was often paired in scenes with Matthew). However, when needed he could play up his more insane side through his insistence on fixing everything himself or a statement affirming his belief in UFOs that bordered on paranoia.

Furthermore, as another illustration of the fact that comedy relies on creating absurdity, rich comedy was mined by playing off Joe’s masculinity. Sometimes it was comedy based on Joe’s machismo taken to the point of absurdity. Examples include the lines he used on Catherine in "Massage Chair" [3-3]. After working on Catherine’s desk, the following conversation takes place.

Catherine: "What do I owe you?"

Joe: "Uh, it depends on what you’ve got."

Catherine: "What?"

Joe: "Well you know, I was just thinking maybe sometime you and I could, uh, get together and, uh, have, you know…."

Catherine: "Dinner?"

Joe: "Sex!"

[Catherine slaps Joe.]

Joe: "I’ll take that as a maybe."

[Catherine slaps Joe on the other cheek.]

At other times, comedy arose out of an ironic treatment of Joe’s masculinity. In "Look Who’s Talking" [4-10] Joe accompanies Beth’s faux duchess to a function and gets mistaken for her homosexual chauffeur-escort. He even has to compound the absurdity by bailing Jimmy out by winning him in the bachelor auction. In "Boston" [5-9] Beth looks for someone to do a woman-to-woman talk but has to settle for the macho Joe (affecting a brilliant "effeminate man" mode) because she keeps laughing at Lisa’s Boston accent. The brilliance of the Joe Garelli character was that he could take all this in stride and never lose his poise.

However, Joe was most often comically paired with Matthew, allowing him to be the counterbalance for Matthew’s weirdness. They were thus able to counterpoint Matthew’s effeminacy with Joe’s masculinity, Matthew’s technical incompetence with Joe’s technical proficiency, and Matthew’s general weirdness with Joe’s normalcy. Appropriate for a station electrician, Joe Garelli was a type of handy man character who could be slotted into relationships as needed. NewsRadio most essentially expressed things through the relationships between the characters, and Joe’s presence in the cast was the buffer that kept those relationships in balance.