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5 Questions with comedian Kathleen Madigan

By Robert DiGiacomo
Press of Atlantic City
April 23, 2014

If you’re looking for comedian Kathleen Madigan this weekend in Atlantic City, you have a good shot at finding her in one of two places.

“If I’m not playing video poker, I probably will be on the boardwalk eating at Flames (now called Bungalow Lounge & Restaurant),” says Madigan, who appears 8 p.m. Saturday, Ppril 26, at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City.

For the veteran stand-up, A.C. is as much a sure thing as her favorite local haunts. “I always have a great time, I always seem to sell a bunch of tickets,” she says. “There’s always a bunch of Irish Catholics who find me there — that always helps.”

The American Comedy Award winner is touring behind her latest hour-long special Madigan Again,” which debuted in September on Netflix and is now available on CD, DVD and audio or video download. Madigan has previously aired specials on Showtime, HBO and Comedy Central, and made the top three in NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” during Season 2 and served as a judge during Season 5.

Ahead of her latest A.C. appearance, Madigan talks about the benefits of going straight to Netflix and why she never wants to star in her own sitcom.

Q: As the middle child in a family with seven kids, did you have to be funny to stand out?

A: I think everyone in my family is pretty funny. When you’re from a big family, everyone is pretty mouthy. I didn’t know about passive-aggressive until I was 35 — I’m only familiar with aggressive-aggressive. I also went to Catholic school. Nobody was a class clown — you would have been thrown out.

Q: Unlike many of your comic peers, you never ventured into acting. What made you stick to stand-up?

A: All of a sudden, in the late ’80s and ’90s, comedians had to have sitcoms. I started in ’89 — we were comedians just to be comedians. That was the end game. Lewis Black, Greg Proops, Jim Gaffigan — there are probably 10 of us, where this is our job. I didn’t really want to be an actor or I would have done dramatic stuff.

Q: Why did you decide to go straight to Netflix for your latest special?

A: When I had a special on HBO, Comedy Central or another network, they would tell you the premiere date and not another thing. With Netflix, it’s on — it’s always on. You don’t have to do all this media build up for one night. You can say a month later, I have a new special. It’s on Netflix.

I think just as many people have seen it on Netflix as on Showtime, and Comedy Central isn’t really my demographic. (Netfix) just gives you a pile of money and you say, “Thanks.”

Q: With the special in release, will you be doing all new material in A.C.?

A: I’m amazed at comedians who say they’re retiring that hour. My act does what it does — it’s its own little thing. I take stuff out and new stuff fills the void. I have my special on Netflix, maybe 10 minutes of my act will be the same, and the rest will be new. If I do 10 minutes worth of old stuff, people will be happy, but I don’t want to do 50 minutes out of 70 that are the same. It’s a fine line to walk between getting criticized that you did too much old stuff and how come you didn’t do that stuff you did before.

Q: What gets the biggest response from audiences?

A: Anything about my dad and my family — that’s their favorite, and anything Catholic will be second. I work really hard on some big, giant thoughts, if we’re having an election. They attach to the stuff about my family, because its a reflection of their family. I always say, dance with the one that brought you. If talking about my dad is what they want me to do, I’m going to do it.



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Marvelous Ms. Madigan

By Lori Hoffman
Atlantic City Weekly
April 21, 2014

Kathleen Madigan is an earthy, hilarious stand-up comedian who loves her job making people laugh, usually for 300 dates a year, an insanely busy schedule. Luckily for her fans in our area, Atlantic City has been a regular stop the last few years, including this Saturday at the Trump Taj Mahal.

In a conversation with Atlantic City Weekly, Madigan revealed a treasured Lewis Black story, her favorite current news event and that she misses Jay Leno.

You had a new streaming special on Netflix added in September, Kathleen Madigan Again. Is streaming the next big market for comedy?

It’s a million times better for us. When I did a special for HBO or Showtime, they would tell me the premiere date, then [couldn’t tell me when else it would be on or how many times]. My mom would call and tell me it was on but I don’t think my mom should be in charge of that. With Netflix, I can say it’s always on, whenever you want it to be on. It’s so much better and they don’t edit anything.

Promotion for everybody these days involves social media. How much are you into that
side of the business?

I love Twitter because it limits everybody to 140 characters and you don’t have to decide if you’re my “friend.’ I have a friend who helps with Facebook and the Web site. With Twitter I’m really involved. I love it and people are funny. I’m good friends with Lewis Black and he argues with me, ‘But it’s not verified.’ ‘So, I don’t care Lew. So what if I thought Jon Bon Jovi was dead for a day. He’s not dead. So now it is good news.’

You’ve made Atlantic City a regular stop. How are the audiences here?

They’re great. There seems to be a lot of my people and by people I mean the Catholics and then break it down to the Irish and I’ll take all the Italians too, There seem to be a lot of people that grew up the same way I did and can relate to a lot of what I’m saying.

Do you have a favorite Lewis Black story?

We were in Afghanistan and they issue you all your stuff. You have to wear the flack jacket all the time and the helmet. It is so heavy. He puts it on and his glasses are always dirty. He always looks semi-homeless. I tell him, ‘You look like an adult with special needs.’ He goes, ‘this is why I come here to encourage people and keep the troops happy. They fight for people like me who are completely incapable of doing this.’ ‘Lewis, if we had a whole army of you and me, we would win every war. If we came over a mountaintop they would just start laughing and then we could kill them.’

You’ve done The Tonight Show 25 times. Do you miss Jay Leno?

I do. I got real sad the last time I did [the show with him] and I went to the final taping. I worked with Jay a million times just in clubs. He’s a great guy, like an older brother who never gets emotionally involved with things. It’s just business. He got so emotional during that last taping and I was very sad. It was like watching a cat cry. That’s impossible. I do miss him. It felt like home appearing with him.

You know he’s playing in Atlantic City the night before you do?

Yes. I knew he was there the night before. He’ll fly out right after the show. He doesn’t stay for beers. I’m the stay-for-beers person.

Has there been anything in the news lately that caught your attention as good comedy material?

I’ve really talked a lot about the Malaysian airplane. I’ve been obsessed with it. My entire life I assumed that when all of us got on a plane that was doing over water that somebody smarter than us on land knew where we were at all times. And guess what? They don’t. They [warn you] about fires, water landings, mountain crashes, but they never say, ‘In the event that we go missing . . .’



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Comedian Kathleen Madigan set to appear at Santander Performing Arts Center

By Kathy Folk
Reading Eagle
April 10, 2014

It truly is a gift to be able to make people laugh.

To make a living making people laugh takes that gift to another level.

And that’s where you’ll find comedian Kathleen Madigan, who brings material from her “Madigan Again” show to the Santander Performing Arts Center Friday night at 7:30. According to, Madigan has spent 300 nights a year on the road for the last 25 years. In addition to touring, she has appeared on television shows such as “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, “The Late Show” with David Letterman, “The Late, Late Show” with Craig Ferguson and “Late Night” with Conan O’Brien.

Leno has called her “one of America’s funniest female comics.” “The funniest woman in America,” said comedian Lewis Black, with whom Madigan performed for two USO tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Easily one of the best comics alive,” said comedian Ron White.

Those guys know funny.

“Madigan Again,” an hourlong special, was released in September exclusively on Netflix, and was named by iTunes as one of the best comedy albums of 2013. It’s available on CD, DVD and audio or video download, if you want to get a little taste of what you can expect at the live show.

“I just want to tell jokes,” Madigan said in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. “I didn’t start doing open mics to become an actor on a sitcom or in a TV commercial. I just like to tell jokes for an hour or so and laugh.

“For a few of us working today, this was our goal. We don’t have any more goals. Can’t you ever have a goal, reach it and then enjoy it? This society is being driven by Type A lunatics that say, ‘You have to set more goals.’ No you don’t. Have a seat and enjoy the fact that you’re here! Maybe that’s the Irish in me talking, though.”

Madigan was named the funniest female stand-up comic at the American Comedy Awards in 1996.

In 2004, she was a finalist on the NBC reality series “Last Comic Standing,” and was the only contestant who went unchallenged by any of the other comics on the show. She was a talent scout for the show in 2007.

She was born in St. Louis on Sept. 30, 1965, one of seven children in a working-class Irish Catholic family, according to

The website describes her humor as sarcastic, dry and working-class observational.



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Kathleen Madigan: ‘Madigan Again’ comes to Strand-Capitol in York

York Dispatch
April 10, 2014

Kathleen Madigan packs her wit, maybe pants, for performance

She’s been named “Best Female Comedian” at the American Comedy Awards, but it’s apparent speaking with Kathleen Madigan she’s just plain funny.

At a time of day when I’m barely able to function without the boost of a steady stream of dark roast coffee, Madigan recently called me from California to talk about her upcoming show, her comedy, social media and the implosion of journalism, and a little bit of everything in between.

Inspiration: Madigan says the material she uses in her shows comes from observations – of her life, of social issues, or issues in the media – and are meant to be stories, rather than jokes. Her narrative style of stand-up feels natural to her, and she says she wants the audience to feel like they could sit down and just be listening to a story in a bar. Some of the material she develops while on tour, based on events occurring around her. Some of her material, she says, is from fan-favorites that she has done before – stories about her family, for instance. “I think everyone can relate to the stories about my parents – we all have that dad that you can see in the stories about mine,” she says.

Still, she says, her years growing up with her parents are different from the way children grow up now.

“It’s crazy,” Madigan says. “Everything revolves around the kids. Everything is about the kids. It’s not like how we grew up, and you were just kind of this pack of people who happened to live together.

Family: That pack of people in rural Missouri included seven children, and parents Jack and Vicki Madigan. She says her parents not only inspired her material, but her father was supportive of her decision to pursue a career in comedy. In addition to the support of her father, Madigan gained the support of the comedians she was opening for on tour – names like Lewis Black and Ron White – who, she says, would become good friends.

Storytelling: Before touring, Madigan worked in print journalism. She says her background as a journalist observing and writing about events has helped her in developing her natural comedy style. It has also made her sensitive to the way media is changing, and humorously critiquing it in her comedy.

“You have [anchors] literally throwing paper airplanes around a studio, trying to figure out what happened to [Flight 370],” she says emphatically over the phone. “If Ted Turner’s alive, he’s got to be losing it.”

Social media: Madigan says she credits the rise of social media networks – like Twitter, of which she is an active user – with her satire on the state of media. “They’re reading tweets on the air,” she says. “How is that newsgathering? I can just go to Twitter.”

Her account is a stream of her humorous observations and experiences while touring, such as forgetting to pack pants.

“[Can't] believe after 25 years of packing every single week I can still forget pants. Seriously. I am an adult. Children pack better than this,” she tweeted. She says she’s recently turned her parents on to the power of social networks – but not without the problems that can arise in introducing an older generation to computers, something she talks about in her stand-up as well.

“My mom is getting it – she’s on Facebook, and she’s big into basketball so she enjoys following that,” she says. “But my dad, he got a Facebook and said, ‘I don’t want people knowing everything I’m doing.’ So I’m like, ‘Well, Dad, are you posting anything?’ and he said no. I said, it’s not like ‘The Matrix,’ they’re not downloading your thoughts.”

Giving back: Something else she credits her family with is a willingness to give back. That, or the “100 years” she spent in Catholic school. Madigan has toured both Iraq and Afghanistan, performing with the USO show, and frequently performs with friends and fellow comedians such as Ray Romano for benefit shows.

“Basically, if I’m not already doing something, I’m in,” Madigan says. “Why wouldn’t I?”



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