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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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Kathleen Madigan’s plainspoken comedy cuts through the noise

By John Wenzel
The Denver Post
April 2, 2014

For a comedian with dozens of TV and radio show spots, national tours and industry honors under her belt, Kathleen Madigan has remained surprisingly candid about her motivations.

Of course that’s part of 48-year-old Missouri native’s charm: unlike some of her peers, who put their stand-up on hold for acting careers, or whose material grows fussier and more self-satisfied over time, Madigan is an old-school touring performer with an unpretentious take on her craft.

“I do it for the sake of doing it,” Madigan said over the phone from Los Angeles this week. “I don’t write a joke for any other reason than to see if I can convey a funny thought in a way that you get why it’s funny. It’s like hitting a golf ball correctly: I just want to see if I can do it again.”

We caught up with Madigan in advance of her shows at Durango’s Community Concert Hall at Ft. Lewis on April 3, the Paramount Theatre on April 4 (which is sold out) and Fort Collins’ Lincoln Center on April 5.

Q: Like Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan and some other comics you play Colorado pretty consistently and always do really well here. Do you have any idea why that is?

A: One reason might be that I was in the regular rotation at Comedy Works for years, and you end up building a presence within the city. Denver’s one of those cities I visit once or twice a year and have been doing so for 20 years, almost since I started. And Colorado people really take to comedy. You’re one of the good ones.

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Madigan passed the bar to start her comedy career

By: Nick A. Zaino III
Boston Globe
March 27, 2014

Back before Kathleen Madigan was packing clubs and theaters as a stand-up comedian, she was making people laugh behind a bar in St. Louis. There were a lot of locals at the bar, and one in particular, a guy named Bill, used to come in every Monday when the horse track was closed. He wrote the racing picks for the local paper and was considered a “hard gambler,” according to Madigan. He wore a horseshoe ring and had a tough demeanor. No one thought Bill could laugh.

But Madigan made Bill laugh “all the time,” she says. “He was the nicest guy in the world. He just looked serious.”

Confident that her regulars found her funny, Madigan decided one night to go next door and see if she could make a whole crowd laugh at a stand-up comedy open mike. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I can make money doing this?’” she says. “At work I’m doing that part for free. I’m making money because I’m pouring drinks. But I could just stop pouring drinks? That’d be great!”

She hasn’t had to pour a drink in a long time. These days, her tour schedule is packed with theaters and opera houses. She sold enough tickets at the 1,200-seat Wilbur Theatre to add a second show Saturday.

Her success has been gradual, but that’s fine by Madigan. “The only thing I wouldn’t be able to tolerate is no change or a backward slide,” she says. “I wouldn’t do that. I would go open a bar.”

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Comic Kathleen Madigan talks career opportunities, the Weather Channel and why she’d be a great bartender

By Stacy Nick
The Coloradan
April 2, 2014

If she hadn’t gone into comedy (and she’d been better at science), Kathleen Madigan would have become a meteorologist.

“I’m kind of addicted to the Weather Channel,” said Madigan in a recent phone interview before heading out to a show in Boston, where the forecasts called for more than 10 inches of snow. “I’m kind of in love with everyone at the Weather Channel. Those are my heroes.

A comic’s comic, Madigan — who will perform Saturday at Lincoln Center — has spent a lot of the last 25 years of her career checking the forecasts before hitting the road. Touring has always been a big part of her career. In her most recent one-hour comedy special on Netflix, “Madigan Again,” Madigan talked about going on two USO tours to Iraq and Afghanistan with a variety of other comedians and musicians including Lewis Black, Kid Rock and Kellie Pickler.

“I really like going on those things, whether you agree with the war or not,” she said. “I think that people forgot that they’re there… There are hundreds of thousands of them over there, and they’re not at war every day. They’re not out ‘snipering’ every day. They’re out on a base and doing a job, so it can get kind of mundane sometimes and they just really appreciate the shows.”

To Madigan, it’s that kind of audience reaction that makes even tours to some difficult places worth the trip. For some comics a network sitcom is the sign of success but Madigan aid she’s never wanted to be an actor.

“That kind of thing, I guess you can make a lot of money but I make enough money,” she said. “I don’t have diamonds or furs, I drive a 2007 Mercury, I don’t care about stuff. I just want to have enough money to just keep going. I just like traveling and … telling jokes. So as long as I keep doing that, I’m happy.”

But Madigan said she also would be happy doing her last “day job.”

“I was a fun bartender and I really enjoyed it,” she said. “I liked talking to people about nonsense. That’s really what I think I was put on Earth to do.”



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Comedian performs at The Lincoln Center this weekend

By Jessica Benes
Reporter Herald
March 31, 2014

Kathleen Madigan performed at an open mic night over 25 years ago and had so much fun that she took it up as her career and has been a comedian ever since.

She has been a guest on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and the Late Show with David Letterman. And she is coming to the Lincoln Center this weekend for a one night event.

“It’s been a really good ride,” she said about her rise to fame. “I kept getting on shows, making a little more money, making a little more money.”

Madigan said she likes performing in Colorado because everyone is hip but not pretentious. She said her shows are a great escape from reality and every audience has a different vibe.

“It’s like going to a movie. If you want to forget everything for an hour and a half, then you should come,” she said.

She gets a lot of her new material on the road from what’s going on in the world or from her family, including six siblings and “about a thousand nieces and nephews.”

Madigan performed to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2011 and 2013, which she said were the most unforgettable experiences of her career.

“It gives them something to do besides sit on the base,” she said.



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