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Veteran comic Kathleen Madigan comes to Cal Poly’s Performing Arts Center

BY JESSICA PENA
New Times
January 14th, 2015

They don’t make comedians like Kathleen Madigan anymore—the kind of blue-collar, everyman’s comic who tours from town to town for the pure love of a live show. Born to a large Irish Catholic family in the Midwest, Madigan came up with the likes of fellow friends Lewis Black and Ron White. Over the past 25 years, she’s taped three specials, released our albums, toured Iraq and Afghanistan, and hosted her own radio show on Sirius XM. She’s seen it all, and in her shows, she discusses it all—from the inanities of travel to the pitfalls of living in a large family. New Times recently spoke with Madigan over the phone about her tour, the status of stand-up comedy, staying relevant, and who the hell Kevin Federline is.

NEW TIMES How are you doing?

KATHLEEN MADIGAN Fine and dandy. Gettin’ ready to go the Midwest.

NEW TIMES How’s the tour been going so far?

MADIGAN I’ve got no circulation left. I’m nothing but a shell of a person. No, it’s been a really fun year. No complaints. Lots of gigs. Lots of travel. I try not to complain, try not to lose my mind at TSA. The biggest part is how do you keep from getting sick on planes. I don’t know. I eat a lot of gummy multivitamins, say no to, ‘Hey, let’s go out to 20 beers tonight’—something I probably would’ve said yes to 20 years ago. When I used to do clubs, I’d stay there a week. Now, it’s one night. Doubling the travel. It’s a different set of challenges.

NEW TIMES Since you’re on tour most of the time, is that where you get most of your material? How do you keep things fresh when you’re on the road?

MADIGAN That’s where everything happens. I don’t wait for stuff to happen. You gotta keep moving, meeting strangers who keep saying stupid things. It’s all in my act. I do a thing about flying into Norfolk, with a mermaid-themed airport. There’s a big chunk on that. Usually the road is enough. My family is there. There’s a lot. I’m leaving tomorrow. It’s all under control. It’s also a lot of fun. I’d rather be from a big family…because there’s an endless amount of conversation. Whatever it may be about—our lives, perspective, conversation. And they’re all pretty funny.

NEW TIMES You’ve been doing comedy for more than 20 years. Do you think your approach or your subject matter has changed at all?

MADIGAN Bizarrely enough. I was the same 20 years ago, so really are my subject matters. It’s not on purpose. I think you figure out what you are. My subject matters are traveling, family, politics, and current events. I don’t really get into celebrities. I was on one of those VH1 shows, and they ask me, “What you do you think about Kevin Federline?” think he plays for the Detroit Redwings. I’m like what? I don’t know anything about Britney Spears. What about her husband? I don’t follow her husband. I’ve just been me the whole time. It’s like Jim Gaffigan talking about family and food. Those are the things I’m interested in.

NEW TIMES It seems almost like a different world, comedy back then. There’s more niche comedy now, people like Maria Bamford and Patton Oswalt. How is it different for comedians coming up now?

MADIGAN I think it’s harder for them. There’s no focus. When people all the way back to Carson—two thirds of the country watched Carson every night. The only thing that two- thirds of the country watch now are the Super Bowl and a mall shooting for about an hour. So, unless you time travel and go to Johnny Carson, how do you get attention? With Leno, you still get attention. All of the networks keep dropping. They consider American Idol a hit because they’re comparing it to different things. Maria [Bamford] and Patton [Oswalt] were still on those shows when people were paying attention. There are good things about it. Sirius Radio has been great. Netflix has been a real gift for us. Maria and Patton have found their audiences. They were exposed to everyone, and their people found them.

NEW TIMES Do you feel any pressure to change your act to gain new audiences?

MADIGAN No, you can only do what you’re doing. You find a way to make the Internet your stage. At this stage, no I can’t. I don’t even care enough. I’m thinking how much more money I need to retire. It’s crazy, really crazy, when I see people my age go, “I’m gonna do this.” They [the younger audiences] don’t care about an old person. We’re old to them. There’s a point of demarcation. Now, you’re Betty White or Cloris Leachman. Now, the young people like you. There are a lot of lost years between 55 and 75 where you’re just some person still working.

NEW TIMES You’re one of the few comedians left who does work primarily on tour. What do you still love about that way of working?

MADIGAN It’s almost like circuitry. It’s like, to keep moving and feel what’s going on everywhere. Not just in my hometown, but in Montana. I like to see what’s going on. I could’ve just as easily been some field reporter. I could’ve been the news crew that chases and finds what’s happening. I like live audiences. The amount of comedians that tape specials and don’t do shows will never cease to amaze me. On the road, there’s probably 20 of us that do it for real. This is our job. There are others who diversify. We’re just the joke people, the part of vaudeville. I like the live shows, being a part of real people. That’s why TV stuff, I don’t resonate with it. Everything takes so long. Even when you do The Tonight Show, there’s an in-house audience—they’re my focus. In those 200 people, there’s probably my people.

 

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A Quick Chat with Stand-up Comedian Kathleen Madigan

By: Don Mathis
The Rivard Report
January 9, 2015

Kathleen Madigan has won both the Phyllis Diller award and the American Comedy Award for “Best Female Comedian,” but it is senseless to label her as a woman comic. She is just fall-on-your-face, pee-in-your-pants funny. She has written and produced “Root of All Evil” on Comedy Central and is the only comedian in the history of NBC’s Last Comic Standing to go unchallenged.

She performs Friday night at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. I caught up with her Thursday on her Los Angeles phone for a few questions.

DM: Does your comedy resonate with people in the South?

KM: I’m from Missouri, which is kind of half and half. My stuff is based on family stuff so it resonates with almost everyone.

DM: Are you from a big family?

KM: Yes, there were seven kids. We had a lot of fun. Mom drank her way through it.

DM: How does that inspire your monologues?

KM: That’s most of the material. My family comes to the shows. Everybody’s good with it.

DM: Who do you think is funny?

KM: Lot of comedians, Bill Burr on Netflix, Jim Gaffigan. There’s a lot of funny people my age (she’s forty-something).

DM: What other comedians have influenced your style?

KM: Ron White, I like his approach.

DM: What makes you different from others in your field?

KM: I focus on family stuff, big family. We’re Catholic – but not committed. I talk on real events rather than politics.

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Madigan brings conversation and comedy Thursday

By: Erica Quiroz
Corpus Cristi Times
January 6, 2015

Performing comedy is similar to jumping off a high dive, Kathleen Madigan said.

“The first time you’re paranoid and freaked out, and trying to figure out if that was fun or not,” Madigan said. “By the second time, you say, ‘OK. That’s awesome.’”

Madigan will perform at the American Bank Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Tickets start at $28.

Recently she was nominated for a 2014 American Comedy Award for Best Concert Comic. Her special, “Madigan Again,” was named one of iTunes’ Best Comedy Albums of 2013. The special can be streamed on Netflix.

Madigan said for those who are not familiar with her show, her act focuses on four topics: travelling, family, politics and sports.

“I talk about what I’m interested in,” Madigan said. “There are no celebrity jokes like Kathy Griffin, who does that very well. TMZ type stuff is never in my act because I’ve never been interested in it.”

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Madigan brings the oldschool humor

By Hector Saldana
San Antonio Express News
January 2, 2015


 


Kathleen Madigan is only the second headlining solo standup comic to play the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Bill Cosby was the first. Madigan arrives Friday at the Tobin center, definitely without the ick factor now surrounding Cosby — and, truthfully, way more hilarity. Now, Madigan isn’t the only funny woman to play the Tobin. Newcomer Nikki Carr arrived in November as part of the group with NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” tour; and Jeanne Robertson was at the venue even earlier, but she’s strictly a humorist and motivational type performer. Madigan has worked the stand-up comedy trenches and heights for years. She was nominated for an American Comedy Award last year for best concert comic, and her latest comedy special was named one of iTunes’ best in 2013. She remains a mainstay on late-night TV talk shows and on Sirius XM satellite radio.

She’s looking forward to getting her first glimpse of the Tobin Center.

“There is a different vibe in a theater,” said Madigan, who’s known for her wisecracking old-school personal style and sharing stories about her big Irish Catholic family, especially her dad.

“A club is a lot more intimate, but you kind of feel like it’s an AA meeting-type situation versus a theater, where it’s more of a show. In a club it’s more of a conversation; in a theater, it’s more of a show. Fortunately, my act is very conversational, so not a lot changes anyway.”

Madigan is a favorite of comedian Lewis Black and Ron White. She is close to both of them. With Lewis, she shares golf dates and gossip. With White, it’s always a glass of scotch.

The stereotype about comics is that they can’t really be friends.

“Everybody sort of gets there own pod,” Madigan said. “Everybody’s got like three or four. Like ‘the pot people’ form their own pod. I’m not a pot person, but I’m a drinker. I can drink wine with Lew or scotch with Ron White. I think you create your pod just from where you started and who was around.”

That’s a lot of scotch to keep up with White.

“For a little person like me, that’s a lot,” Madigan joked. “That’s enough to go to a hospital.”

The Cosby controversy notwithstanding, Madigan said 2014 was an especially tough year for comedy. The deaths of Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, John Pinette of “Seinfeld” fame and cowboy comic Tom Wilson were personally devastating.

“The biggest hit for me was John Pinette,” said Madigan, 49. “We’re (about) the same age and we actually coheadlined comedy gigs together throughout the years …he was a trainwreck, but he was sweet and generous and so funny. That just got me so sad.”

She’s performed with Williams in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rivers, she admired as a legend (though she said she preferred Phyllis Diller, “who resonated more”).

“You just can’t believe it. The whole year it was, ‘What the (expletive)? Are you kidding?’” she said.

“If you told me tomorrow Mel Brooks died, well you expect that. He’s like 100. I just saw Don Rickles in Montreal this summer. He’s doing it, but he’s very old. But all of these? Joan was so current and so hip.” Madigan, on the other hand, takes things in a hysterically different direction.

“I honestly don’t even know what the Kardashians do. I have no idea,” she said. “Nor do I care to look it up.”

 

 

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Kathleen Madigan headlines Cache Creek

By Richard Freedman
Daily Democrat
11/28/2014

Kathleen Madigan returns to Cache Creek resort and casino in Brooks on Dec. 13.

Some comics lug everything on the road from T-shirts, CDs and DVDs. Not Kathleen Madigan. No, thanks. This stand-up considered one of the nation’s funniest humans packs her clothes and her comedy.

And that’s about it.

“A lot of comics, it’s about the ‘merch,’” Madigan said. “I’d feel like a circus. Not that I think comedy is too high and mighty. But we’re not like the Rolling Stones. Or Larry the Cable Guy. He probably makes more in ‘merch’ than telling jokes. I’m just not sales person. The whole thing is strange.”

It’s early morning and Madigan is “in the middle of Missouri” nursing a cold at his sister’s house. Since her constant tour schedule dictates she take the stage in Roanoke, Norfork, and Durham, by golly, that’s where Madigan takes her act and handkerchief. “It’s the glamorous life,” she said. Fortunately, that’s a Thanksgiving break before the 5-foot-1 dynamo performs at Cache Creek resort in Brooks on Sat., Dec. 13. And don’t think Madigan doesn’t realize there are slot machines a few feet away.

“I love video poker,” she said. “That’s my thing. It’s crack for me.”

The casinos offer lots of work for Madigan. And that makes her happy.

“Whenever you get a chance to vote ‘yes’ for a casino, do it,” said Madigan. “I’ve learned more about Indian tribes while walking through a casino and gambling than I ever did in school.”

After 26 years in the business, Madigan has solidified her spot not only as a premiere female comic, but as a comic. Period. Count Jay Leno, Ron White and Lewis Black among her biggest fans with credits that include a nomination as the 2014 American Comedy Award for Best Concert Comic.

“It’s nice, but sometimes it doesn’t make sense,” Madigan said, noting some lists include standups and actors.

Not that Madigan’s complaining.

“I’ll take an extra trophy if anyone wants to give me one,” she said.

There is one award Madigan covets. When she was 13, she shot 15 of 15 underhanded from the foul line and won her local “hoop shoot” contest.

“I’m not embarrassed to admit that,” Madigan said. “I got the trophy and retired. I wasn’t going to get any taller. I quit as champion.”

There’s no doubt this Missouri master of mirth has paid her dues. And she knows what it takes to arm-wrestle her way to the top.

“For most people, seven to 10 years,” Madigan said of the struggle. “By the time I was 33, I was paying rent. I was doing just OK. But I was only one person. I couldn’t raise a family.”

And she surely couldn’t afford a pet. Not one with four paws.

“I got a fish tank and had a freshwater shark. It committed suicide,” Madigan said. “I got home and it had jumped out of tank and was on the couch. It killed itself.”

At least the career’s doing well. There’s a home in West Hollywood and one “down by a lake” in Missouri. Not that Madigan enjoys Southern California.

“It’s a terrible place,” she said. “Soulless, narcissistic ball of egos. The only nice thing is the weather. Los Angeles people are never going to resonate with me. Thank God when I went to L.A. I already had friends there who had come from Texas, Ohio and Washington.”

Fortunately, there’s the rest of the country.

“I still like the road, like traveling,” Madigan said.

With Madigan at Cache Creek is opening act and friend, Chuck Martin, who, she said, “looks like every other white guy.”

Madigan admires Martin as an Emmy-winning writer, a job she wouldn’t want when “half the people in the room aren’t funny who I’d want to punch in the face and everyone’s a boss.”

Maybe doing this stand-up thing is good after all.

“I never worked well in groups,” Madigan said.

Nor does she expend a ton of energy on stage. No, no cartwheels for this gal.

“I don’t even move,” Madigan said. “I’m paid to stand there and tell jokes and that’s what I’m doing.”

 

 

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