By Richard Freedman
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.”