She may be best known for her stand-up comedy, political activism and television roles, but starting Jan. 30, Janeane Garofalo will be gracing the stage of The New Group production of Russian Transport.

Directed by Scott Elliot and written by Erika Sheffer, Russian Transport tells the story of a Russian Jewish immigrant couple, Diana and Misha, who struggle to maintain their car service business. Garofalo will play the mother, Diana, alongside co-star Daniel Orekes (Billy Elliot: The Musical, Miracle worker) who stars as Misha.

The couple and their two teenage children, Alex and Mira, strive to fulfill the American Dream in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. The family's happiness is threatened when Diana's mysterious brother Boris comes to stay with the family and has a heavy influence on the two teens. While Boris is an exciting new addition to the household, Alex becomes entangled in the uncle's dangerous world.

Although Garofalo has extensive experience in stand-up comedy, television and film, Russian Transport is the 47-year-old actress' first role in an off-Broadway production.

 This is my first official play, Garofalo told Our Town Downtown.  I have been a fan of The New Group, and I never imagined that I would be asked to participate in something like this. It is both daunting and exciting. I have never had that feeling with my work, being both excited and terrified.

Initially, I passed, she said. I thought I couldn't do it, play a Russian immigrant mom who is running a business. I didn't think I could vacillate between the English with the Russian accent and the Russian dialogue. I met Scott to tell him this and by the end of lunch I had agreed to do it. He talked me into it, but he is one of the greatest directors I have ever worked with. He says all the right things all of the time.

Garofalo began her career in stand-up comedy in the late 1980s and was part of an alternative comedy scene in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. She performed in New York throughout the late 1990s and early 200s.

After meeting Ben Stiller in 1990 in Los Angeles, Garofalo began a television career. She has played roles on the Ben Stiller Show, Saturday Night Live, Seinfeld, The West Wing, 24, Criminal Minds and Ideal. She has also played roles in a number of films, including Wet Hot American Summer, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, Dogma, Half-Bake Clay Pigeons and Ratatouille.  

Russian Transport will also feature Morgan Spector (A View from the Bridge), Sarah Steele (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie), and Raviv Ullman (Disney Channel's Phil of the Future). The production includes set design by Derek McLane, lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski, costume design by Ann Hould-Ward, sound design by Bart Fasbender and the dialect coach was Doug Paulson. 

Tickets for the off-Broadway production can be purchased through or (212) 239 - 6200. Tickets are $60 plus a $1.25 restoration fee.