BY: SARAH LINN
January 14, 2015
For someone who can’t stand the spotlight, standup comedian Kathleen Madigan picked one hell of a career.
“If I hear somebody go ‘Kathleen!’ my immediate reaction is defensive and aggressive,” she quipped. “(Growing up) if you heard your name called, it was never good. It was like, ‘Somebody broke this lamp and your brother said it was you.’”
These days, Madigan may find it increasingly difficult to avoid attention.
Her latest comedy special, “Madigan Again,” premiered in September 2013 on Netflix, earning her an American Comedy Award nomination for best concert comic. She counts Lewis Black and Ron White among her admirers. And she’s currently racking up tour dates across the country.
Madigan, 49, grew up in the St. Louis suburb of Florissant, Mo., as part of a large, sarcastic Irish-American clan.
She and her six siblings spent much of their childhoods blissfully unsupervised by their father, a worker’s compensation lawyer, and mother, a nurse turned stay-at-home mom.
“Half the time, my mother didn’t even know where we were,” Madigan recalled. “That was fine with me. … I didn’t even want attention. I loved the lack of focus.”
Madigan worked as a bartender, waitress and newspaper reporter before trying her hand at standup comedy — cutting her teeth at open mic nights across the St. Louis area.
Money was a key motivator, she said.
“Honestly. I found out you could make 250 bucks if you had 10 minutes (of material) and could be an opening act,” said Madigan, who holds a journalism degree from Southern Illinois University. “A real job never appealed to me. I didn’t like the whole nine-to-five (thing). I just hated it.”
Comedy, in contrast, “comes easy to me,” she added.
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