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Kathleen Madigan’s got love for ATL comedy

By: Kate Douds
Creative Loafing
February 26, 2015

Talking with Kathleen Madigan is like talking to an old friend — assuming the old friend has a wicked sense of humor and approximately zero tolerance for bullshit. Her stand-up
is no exception.

“I’m the lady at the end of the bar, basically, who walks in and you say, ‘Oh, how’ve you been?’ and then I just keep talking,” Madigan says. “Normally I would not talk for an
hour and 15 minutes to a stranger, but that’s the comedy show I do.”

That being said, Madigan’s fans are far from strangers. Over the course of her career she’s performed everywhere from California to Afghanistan, having developed a significant
following along the way.Her three stand-up comedy specials, including her most recent Detroit-based performance, “Madigan Again,” certainly hasn’t hurt. And although she chooses not to involve herself in the world of television and film, Madigan certainly doesn’t limit her humor to the stage. The comedian engages with fans via social media as well, live-tweeting everything from the Grammys to an episode of “House Hunters.”

Her interpersonal style and comfortable stage presence played a big part in the choice of venue. “[Variety Playhouse] is small,” Madigan says. “They said, ‘Do you want to move on to another venue?’ And I said I’d rather stay there and do two shows, just because of the vibe of the place. It just has a very casual, fun, very upbeat vibe.” Plus, there’s a bar across the street called [Euclid Avenue] Yacht Club that I really like [laughs].”

Although Madigan is a St. Louis native, she does have a history in Atlanta. Madigan once worked at the Funny Bone in Buckhead, as well as the Punchline Comedy Club. Madigan admits she doesn’t frequent clubs as much as she did as an up-and coming-comedian, but she is no newcomer to local comedy. “I was saying to a couple friends of mine, that [the Punchline] was one of those rooms that for whatever reason was just perfect,” she says. “I know that they’re closing in March and they’re going to try somewhere else, but I don’t think they can physically move the building and that’s what I would like them to do.”

After more than two decades in the business, Madigan’s ability to work her way up with few — if any — roadblocks is an accomplishment in itself. Having learned a lot from comedians she opened for along the way, such as Ron White and Lewis Black, she affirms there’s something to be said for just being able to naturally talk to people.

“[Stand-up] is not a matter of opinion: you either got laughs tonight or you didn’t,” she says. “It’s one of the two. And if you do get laughs, they’re going to want to hire you and pay you. I’ve been very fortunate and very lucky, because I just stumbled into something that is fun and it comes pretty easy to me. We feel that we’re getting away with it; we’re so lucky.”

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Kathleen Madigan has found the perfect level of fame

By: Lee Valentine Smith
Insite Atlanta

When you perform, it really looks like you truly enjoy what you do.

That’s real. I don’t even have to fake it. No matter how crappy the day, or if I have the flu or whatever, it’s still fun. And that’s why I prefer live shows to doing a sitcom or a movie. It’s the energy of the people. I couldn’t sit here and do it for myself. Well, I could, but it would be the first sign before I end up in the psych ward! I just love the energy of live people. They got off the couch, hired and sitter and came to the show. Good for them!

So many comics are angling for a sitcom or a movie, or a hosting gig.

Yeah and even my agents don’t really get it. From the beginning, my goal was to be a comedian. I’ve reached it, so why can’t I just do it? I blame it mostly on Oprah and Tony Robbins and all those people. If you have a goal and you’ve reached it, you’re supposed to immediately reset your engines? Why? This is fine.

You’re in a great position. Like this tour, it’s not arenas, its comfortable theaters.

This is the spot. I’d never want to be at a Madonna level of fame. Jerry Seinfeld has reached it, Chris Rock has reached it, but they can still do a club in New York if they want to. People would be excited but they’re not like lunatic, rock star fans. This is perfect. The theaters I’m playing, most of them are like 1500 seats, so we’ll have a good time.

And it sure beats one-nighters.

Oh yes. I don’t want to go back to those. I could, but I don’t have to now. I put on Twitter, that’s essentially what Bill Cosby’s shows are now. His shows have essentially become “Second Show Fridays in a comedy club.” Notoriously, the worst shows of the week. People go to Happy Hour, and head to the Punchline or whatever and by 11 o’clock they’re hammered and out of control. In a theater, with ushers that are basically my mother’s age who have never seen anyone misbehave, they’ll go “Shhhh!” Cosby shows have turned into “sex-joke Fridays” because there are basically no bouncers! Literally, you have 70 to 75-year-old ushers who only wanted to see the Sound Of Music sing along.

You were on the second episode of the new Larry Wilmore show on Comedy Central.

I love him. He’s so smart, so irreverent, without even trying. That’s just Larry. I’m gonna be back on there soon. I like it that they’re gonna spend time on one subject.

He certainly doesn’t steer clear of controversial topics or hot-button issues.

Not at all! And I’m glad. You know, I think for people in our age-range, we’re kinda sick of the five-second mentality. If I sat around with Lewis Black and Larry and we’re talking about Bill Cosby, we’re gonna spend some time on it; more than 30 seconds. To have a good discussion, we need to keep talking.

But in your own act, you aren’t directly controversial or combative at all.

No, I don’t like it. It’s not my thing, and I think it’s because I’m the middle child of a big family and I prefer no commotion, if we can somehow arrange that. I’m here to point out the absurd – in a funny way. I’m not here to change your mind, really. For me, that’s the way the job gets done.

 

 

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Comic Kathleen Madigan finds humor in family dynamics

By: Donna Isbell Walker,
Greenville News
February 23, 2015

Comic Kathleen Madigan won’t celebrate her 50th birthday for another seven months, but the prospect of the big 5-0 doesn’t faze her.

“I’ve always felt 50,” Madigan said in a recent phone interview from New York. “I think because I’ve always had a job. I’ve had a job since I was 12. Finally, I feel like the age I’ve always felt I was, so it’s not even traumatic.”

And don’t expect another birthday to bring about changes in her work. Madigan’s style of comedy blends wry stories about her large Catholic family with sharply observed takes on politics and culture.

The St. Louis native is one of seven children, and her parents and siblings are a cornerstone of her act. And off-stage, she can always count on her brothers and sisters to offer an honest opinion.

“My dad is highly critical, and he goes, ‘Well, if your family can’t criticize you, who can?’” said Madigan, who performs in Clemson on Sunday. “And I’m like, ‘How about strangers? how about people I don’t have to hear from every time I see you?’ And he says, ‘Do you just want a yes man?’ And I say, ‘How about a say-nothing man?’ … You don’t need to tell me I’m great; just say nothing.”

While her siblings are often the first to offer criticism, “I’m glad they do because there are way too many people who are lying to you 90 percent of the time. If you’re a sane person, I think it’s good to have somebody (giving an honest opinion). Like Lewis Black is one of my best friends; he’d tell me the truth, but he won’t deliver it quite as bluntly as
my family will, where they’ll go, ‘Oh my God, that show was awful.”

More recent comedic fodder has come from the controversy surrounding NBC News anchor Brian Williams, suspended for exaggerating about his role in news coverage.

Madigan, who majored in journalism at Southern Illinois University, said Williams’ behavior, even before the scandal broke, blurred the line between celebrity and journalist a little too much.

“If you’re going to be doing segments in Letterman, which is what I should be doing, if you want to be a celebrity, then why not just let celebrities do the news, and we’ll all take turns? Lewis (Black) can do it Monday, Ron White can do it Tuesday, Seinfeld can do it Wednesday. The news should be the one thing that’s serious. And I’m not even a serious person. But you need to be telling the truth. You have two jobs: Go get the news and report the news correctly. You did neither. I would have fired him,” she said.

Politics and current events are important parts of Madigan’s act, and she’s something of a rarity in the world of comedy because she stays away from crude humor and graphic talk about sex. She said that’s because she wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing those subjects with random strangers.

“The things that I’m interested in in real life that I talk about all day are the things in my act: my family, politics, sports, current events. … I wouldn’t just run around talking about my sex life to strangers,” she said.

While comics often say that their stage persona is just a persona, Madigan disagrees. “I think what you see on stage from people, 90 percent is what they really are. … I think the adjectives you could use to describe somebody in their act is also how you would use the adjectives to describe them off-stage.”

Her fellow comic and pal Lewis Black is an example of that. Black, who comes to the Peace Center in April, has honed a curmudgeonly stage persona, but Madigan said that’s just one facet of Black’s personality.

“He actually very sweet,” Madigan said. “He probably wouldn’t want me telling people that. He is what he is on stage, but he’s also more than that. That’s part of him, and it’s real, but he also is one of the nicest guys that you would ever run into.”

 

 

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Valentine’s Day Survival Advice for Singles from Kathleen Madigan

By Jeryl Brunner
Parade.com
February 13, 2015

It’s Valentine’s Day and you don’t have a Valentine.“I know, it’s just another reminder that you are home alone watching House Hunters with your cat,” says comedian Kathleen Madigan who has appeared on Leno, Letterman, Ferguson, O’Brien, the View, and a slew of other TV shows. But seriously, take a breath. Don’t panic, advises Madigan. The single gal and House Hunters fan shares how to ride out the day while having a couple of kicks in the process.

“I’ve been single all these years on Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t particularly bother me cause comedians on the road don’t really know what day it is. All I know is on holidays I make a lot of extra money. But I used to tell my sister, ‘just ignore the fact that it’s Valentine’s Day. Wake up and pretend it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Get some green food coloring and pour it in your beer, into your coffee, into everything. In your mind it’s going to be St. Patrick’s Day all day long. And if you start drinking green beer early enough, by 4pm you won’t care that day it is.’”

“Focus on the great parts about being single. Take a picture of yourself in bed wearing your pajamas with all the covers to yourself, all the pillows and extra money. Because that’s what married couples don’t have. They don’t get the bed to themselves anymore. They usually don’t have extra cash because they’re spending it on kids. The joy of being single is that you don’t have to think about anybody else. Guess what I’m going to have for dinner tonight? Who cares! I’m going to do what I want!”

“Listen to the most depressing song about love, which is the greatest song ever written — – George Jones’ country song “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” And then decide if you really want to get into a relationship.

“This is really dark but I like it. If you’re really depressed that it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re single, rent a movie that’s a love story where one of them dies at the end. You get to think, that is person single but they had to go through all crap to get back to where I already am. And I’VE never been sad like that. You’ll feel so much better about yourself.”

“Valentine’s night can also be the greatest night in the world ever to go to your favorite sports bar and have it all to yourself. Because there’s no way a guy is going to invite the woman he’s with for a romantic dinner at a sports bar. I really like sports bars. Some women like them. But that’s not what you picture on Valentine’s Day. Most people are going to fancy restaurants so the rest of the places are empty. Boom! That’s why it’s a great night.”

“Because there’s so many of us, my parents hope nobody else gets married and has kids because that means more babysitting for them. But if your parents are on really on you, put it on them. Say, ‘you’re right. It’s a horrible existence and I am so sad. So what are you going to do about it to make me happy today? It would be great if you could send an extra present. Or maybe drop a bucket of beer on the front porch or send over a pizza, that’d be nice.’ Throw it right back at them.”

“People focus on, oh my God, I’m single, that’s so depressing. Not really. If you really want to know depressing, call one of your unhappily married friends and ask them how it’s going.”

“Cry if you have to, but then it has to lead into laughing at some point. Really, Hallmark made up this holiday. Why are we going to let a card company from Kansas City make us feel terrible?”

 

 

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Kathleen Madigan (Variety Playhouse Feb. 28) stays focused on her comedy

By: Rodney Ho
Atlanta Journal Courier
February 12, 2015

Kathleen Madigan is one of those stand-up comics who comes across so casually and comfortably on stage, she could just as easily be in your living room with a glass of chardonnay after dinner just hanging out.

Her low-key charm is decidedly anti-Kardashian. She isn’t all about bolstering her brand. She isn’t creating a line of jewelry or coming up with a reality show focused on herself. She isn’t gunning for a starring role on a sitcom.

Madigan just loves to stand up on a stage and tell stories.

She will talk to the press to promote her comedy dates, including her upcoming two shows at the Variety Playhouse Feb. 28. She found Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s reluctance to speak to media before the Super Bowl grating.

“He was being a big baby,” she said. “My Midwestern work ethic has no patience for that. Just answer the questions and be gone.”

Madigan has been in the comedy game for a quarter century. She has been able to make a good living spinning jokes. And she likes the freedom of being the boss. But she is big enough that she has folks handling her booking, her books, her publicity, even her online presence. “I don’t really want to be a boss but I have to have employees,” she said.

She is no Donald Trump. Her firing style tends to be as laid back and real as her stand-up. She said she often remains friends with them. “Usually, they know it’s not working out. They end up agreeing with me,” she said.

Her best buddy is Lewis Black, the irascible stand-up who is performing at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre May 1. “He has a tour manager, a bus driver, a merchandise guy. I sometimes hang out with him on the road. It’s fun but not fun enough for me to deal with all that responsibility.”

She is popular enough in Atlanta that she can do two dates at the 1,000-seat capacity Variety, where she performed last in 2013.

“It’s kind of raw,” Madigan said. “It’s kind of clubby. I like the vibe. I’d rather do two shows there than one in a larger theater that feels sterile and uptight. Some of these places, I feel like I should be doing a lecture on dolphins, they’re so serious.”

Read the full article…

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