Janeane Garofalo wasn’t always a flaming left-winger, says Jeff Renaud in Geek Monthly. These days, the 44-year-old comedian and former Air America host is as well-known for her liberal activism as for her film and TV work. But her upbringing in New Jersey was anything but liberal. “I grew up in a very conservative, religious household, and my father’s conservative politics dominated,” says Garofalo, who was raised Catholic. On issues ranging from abortion to the environment, she says she generally shared, and rarely questioned, those values.

Then, when she entered Providence College, she had an epiphany. One day she was singing Ronald Reagan’s praises to a friend who aggressively challenged her to defend her position. She realized at that moment that she couldn’t. “I was just repeating the crap my dad was saying, trying to sound like I knew what I was talking about. That devastating day turned out to be one of the best things that happened to me—even though I was terribly embarrassed.”

Now firmly planted on the Left, Garofalo says she loves politics but would never consider running for office. “Oh God no. That would be awful. I’m not qualified, which clearly hasn’t stopped others. But I don’t want to be that kind of mediocre.”