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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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Kathleen Madigan: Funny family, funny woman

Lancaster Online
April 9, 2014

Comedian Kathleen Madigan, who is coming to the area for shows at the Santander Performing Arts Center in Reading Friday and the Strand-Capitol in York on Saturday, comes from a big family. She was smack in the middle of seven kids.

So that’s why she became a comedian, right? A neurotic need to get noticed? Nope. Madigan liked being lost in her big Irish Catholic tribe growing up.

“It was so awesome to be one of seven. Nobody was paying attention to anything, and that lack of focus is good,” Madigan says with a laugh.

A lot of her material comes from her family’s dynamic. “And a lot of my jokes are just reporting on things that are completely absurd,” she says. (Right now, CNN’s obsession with Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has given her plenty of material for her upcoming shows.)

Madigan is not of the neurotic school of comedians, where being on stage is a sort of obsession.

“I don’t feel the need to be on stage at all. I’d prefer to throw on pajamas and watch ‘House Hunters,’” she says.

Besides, being neurotic in a house filled with seven kids gets you nowhere.

“I remember one Christmas (when we were kids) my brother was down in the dumps and said, ‘No one cares about my feelings. I said, haven’t you looked in the Irish Catholic manual? The bottom line is, everybody loves you but nobody really cares. There’s too much going on to be neurotic.

“I am very comfortable with that,” she adds. “It made us all a thousand percent independent. Our worlds are never going to fall apart. We have known since we were 10 how to make our world not fall apart.”

Clearly, Madigan is close to her family. She mentions her siblings and her mom several times during the interview and admits to spending “inordinate amounts of time” with them.

“I didn’t even know people had small families until I was in high school,” Madigan says. “What I am doing on stage is no different than what I am doing all day.”

Indeed, one of her sisters got up on stage and did one of Madigan’s old routines and “did quite well.”

It’s the Irish way, Madigan insists.

“Everyone in my family is irreverent, funny in their own way,” she says. “I am just as mouthy as the rest of them.”

How did her parents feel when she told them she was quitting her job to pursue a career
in comedy?

“I don’t think they noticed,” she says. “Part of it was my old-school dad didn’t take the girls as seriously. If my brother had done it, there would have been more discussion.” She is a rather clean comedian, though a few profane words do come out.

“In my mind, I can do better,” she says. “Besides, if you use them sparingly, they carry more weight.” Madigan isn’t sentimental or a softie. Her family isn’t either.

“I was saying to a friend of mine who comes from a really small family where everyone says ‘I love you’ all the time, that that makes me uncomfortable. He said, ‘You don’t say I love you?’ No, it’s a sign of weakness.”

Madigan laughs as she says this. It’s the Irish way, after all.

About 25 years ago, Madigan, who had studied to be a journalist and worked for a time in the newspaper business, was working as a bartender when she and one of her colleagues
tried out an open mic night.

“It was fun,” she recalls. “It came very easy and I thought it was easier than bartending, waiting tables or being a journalist.”

She appears regularly on the Tonight Show, David Letterman and all the other late night shows, tours about 300 nights a year, has done a number of TV specials for HBO and Comedy Central and has recorded four CDs and two DVDs. And she’s done two USO tours to Iraq and Afghanistan with comedy friends Lewis Black, Robin Williams and John Bowman.

Unlike many comics, Madigan does not get nervous before a show.

“Why put yourself through it? Why is it so complicated?” she asks. “(Fellow comedians) say what if this is the night they hate you? I won’t get on the neurotic train. They have to
hate you a lot more than once for it to matter.”



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