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Politics, Netflix, and The Pope with Kathleen Madigan, Coming to the Attucks

By Katie Anderson
Alt Daily
November 10, 2014.

Kathleen Madigan is just funny. She makes us laugh without yelling or making silly videos, and somehow makes it through a whole show without once mentioning dieting.
She was nominated for a 2014 American Comedy Award for Best Club Comic and has a new hour special, “Madigan Again,” on Netflix. We talked with Madigan about the new media model, Congressional gridlock, and why the old Pope had shitty taste in designer footwear.

AltDaily: We are so happy that you’ll be back to the Attucks.

Kathleen Madigan: Thanks.

I just saw your Netflix special and it was, as usual, very funny. How was it different working with Netflix as opposed to say HBO or Comedy Central?

I’ve had specials on HBO and Showtime and Comedy Central and the problem working with those guys is that they will say, “Okay Kathleen, your special is going to premiere at
such and such time at such and such and such hour” and I’d say “Okay, great. How many times are your going to show the special?” and they would say “We don’t know” and I would say “If you figure it out can you tell me?” and they’d say “No we can’t do that.”

(Laughs).

I know. I was like, “Why are you keeping this a secret from me?” And it would be random, like my mom would text me “you’re on Showtime right now, if you’re supposed to be getting money, your father and I are keeping track”… So you can stop doing that, mom. Now when people ask me where they can see me, I can say that I’m on Netflix 24 hours, 7 days a week. Plus, younger people don’t even get involved in cable and all that stuff.

I don’t have cable anymore. I have Apple TV.

And Netflix pays just as well. There’s just no downside. It’s what the networks just don’t realize. Meeting with these network people is like talking to your grandparents and talking to the Netflix guys is like talking to your weird 25-year-old neighbor who has a very nice house but HOW? He’s always wearing a hoodie and carrying coffee around. (Both laughing.) I want to talk to the people who are thinking of the next thing and not of the past and how awesome they were.

They do take things off of Netflix. Do you talk about how long it’s going to be on?

Oh yeah, you can make a million arrangements. When (this special) runs out I can say “Hey guys, can you keep this one going?”and they’ll go, “Sure let’s work on a secondary price.” It’s called the second buy. It’s like re-leasing a used car. I mean, it’s still a good car so do you want to renew your lease or do you want me to take it somewhere else and try to sell it?

I know you’ve performed a few times for the troops through the USO. I’ve heard that the war is over, but I can tell you as someone who lives in Norfolk that people keep getting deployed. So do you have any plans to go back to perform in Afghanistan or Iraq?

Here’s what I know I won’t do. I called Lewis Black the second Obama said that we’re sending troops to Syria and I said, “Okay, here’s the thing: No, no and no.” Because Assad scares me and I think it’s weird that he’s an eye doctor. But Isis has added a level… I’d really think twice. I mean, we performed in Mosul and Isis owns it now.

Did you see the Frontline this week about Isis?

Yeah I did. I love my country and I do feel sorry for all the troops getting deployed. I will go to any base on US soil and do free shows but I’m too scared (to go to Iraq). Nor would I go to West Africa where they’re sending National Guard people to help with Ebola. And God love the people willing to help but I said to Lew, don’t even think about saying yes if they call us, cause we usually go together.

How you feel about the new Pope?

I’m a huge fan of the new Pope. My mom has always been in line more with Catholicism than I have been, but I love that he’s new thinking but still old school. He went to a special thing recently and gave a shout out to all the exorcists. There you go! Those guys never get a shout out.

Exorcists?

He went to a conference about the devil and there were about 300 approved exorcists and I’m like, “This is so old school!” And ever since I saw the movie The Exorcist, I do believe in the devil and I believe that there are crazy things going on and I’m glad that this Pope has got it in check. And my dad went to a Jesuit high school, college, and law school, and I’m a huge fan of the Jesuits because they make you think outside of the box. This Pope is so Jesuit—can we have some critical thinking? Can we have someone who can do a syllogism? But I do worry that he may be so progressive that the old school contingency might try to get rid of him. And I would never want to see that happen because he’s the first bright light in the Catholic Church in a very long time. I was so creeped out by the old Pope. I mean, really, you’re going to wear red Prada shoes? First of all, clearly, you’ve never seen the movie The Devil Wears Prada, so how about not Prada? And second of all you’re the Pope! You shouldn’t be wearing Prada. You’re the leader of the Christlike people! Jesus had sandals, not even good ones.

Jesus did have some bad sandals.

The Pope did say the other day that he believes in angels, and my mom said, “Isn’t that nice” but that’s one that that he kinda has to. He just can’t say, “Oh that whole ‘angel’ thing? I’m not really on board…”

Oh yeah and the angels are at least half of the merch at the Cathedral gift shops…

(Laughing). Exactly, you can’t cancel the gift shop!

Do you think Obama will do anything wild in his last years in office?

No. He always seems like he’s about two weeks behind. I don’t know if there’s just too much to do or what. Like the Ebola thing, there is no cohesive leader here, clearly. Lew was all on board with Obama but he’s not a wizard, he’s just a guy who has to go along with all of the other crazy crap that other presidents go through and try to get along with people who hate his guts…

Well, it doesn’t appear that anything is going to get easier for him…

I was having a conversation with a nice reporter guy who said, “I can’t remember a time where this country was more polarized…” and well, there was the Civil War. I mean, that was pretty bad, pulling out bayonets and cannons. I think most Americans are somewhere in the middle going “enough already with this nonsense.”

It’s the gridlock more than anything.

I also think it’s because they’re selfish bastards. Most (Congresspeople)… it’s all about them and what kind of clip are they going to get for their next campaign commercial and too many rich people, and they’re already rich, and the jobs (in Congress) don’t pay so you know that it’s got to be about their ego because why else would you do it?

Do you think you think campaign finance reform would help?

Absolutely. There should be caps. If I wanted to run for Senate, well, I can’t. I can’t buy a TV commercial. We’re creating dynasties of generations who have the money and then they rule us. It’s bizarre. They’ve completely disenfranchised all normal people. That’s why I think people looked at Steve Forbes and said, “Yeah, okay him. He’s a billionaire and so he clearly doesn’t need more money…” but his eyes were just too weird.

(Laughing.)

It’s like how I felt about Dick Gephardt. And I’m from St. Louis and I want to root Dick Gephardt on but you can’t be a president without eyebrows. There’s something weird looking about you.

You would think that someone could fix that, too.

Yeah someone could have used a little eyebrow pencil and helped the guy out

 

 

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Kathleen Madigan, Irish Catholic comedian talks career, Paramount show

By DAVID J. CRIBLEZ
Newsday
November 5, 2014

Comedian Kathleen Madigan could be your wisecracking sister-in-law or the entertaining lady at the end of the bar who’s full of sass. Her Midwestern charm takes the audience right in, allowing them to unleash those genuine belly laughs comedians fight so hard for.

Thursday night, Madigan, 49, will test Long Islanders’ sense of humor when she comes to The Paramount in Huntington. Being the middle child in an Irish Catholic family of seven from Missouri, she is determined to be heard.

You are friends with fellow comedian Lewis Black. How do you two mesh?

Lew is a more hopeful person than I am, which offsets my cynicism. My cynicism keeps his hopefulness in check. I tell him, “You grew up in an era where there was hope. My first political memory is Nixon quitting. We’re not coming from the same place.” He has so much hope for Obama and he when feels like Obama isn’t living up to it, I say, “Lew, he’s not a wizard. You think there’s a wizard but, there is no wizard. Bring it all down a level and you’ll be a happier man.”

You guys did a bunch of USO shows together. What did you get out of those experiences?

Those were the greatest shows on Earth. I should always film my specials in Kabul. The troops are just so happy you came and remembered they were there. But my God, Afghanistan makes Tijuana look like Manhattan. It was like going to a whole other world. There are wild camels there! I told Lew, “I think we’ve flown to the Bible.”

You came from a big Irish Catholic family. Was there a lot of comedy in your household?

Yeah, there was, but we didn’t realize that until my sister dated a German guy. He didn’t have our sense of humor and he thought we were being mean. My dad was like, “He needs to get on board!” It took for the antithesis of funny to enter the house for me to realize we had a sense of humor.

You are the middle child of seven kids. Was that a tough spot to be in?

When there are seven kids, nobody is truly paying attention to anything. You are on your own, but I prefer that. There was no hyper focus on me. Ninety percent of the time my parents didn’t know what I was doing and I liked it that way.

Did going to Catholic school help keep you in check?

It made me not cross certain lines. Even if nobody was watching, God was watching. The fear of God helped me not do bad things. Every single day in Catholic school, a nun would write on the board: 1.) God, 2.) Others, 3.) Yourself — then say, “Remember that order. That’s how you live.” When you see that every single day for eight years, it becomes a moral code that’s installed inside of you.

You worked as a journalist as you came up the comedy ranks. How did that affect your stage performance?

It didn’t, but it really enhanced my press kit. If you would have gotten my press kit, you would have thought I was the most accomplished comedian on the planet, and I had only been doing it for a year and a half. I’d even help other comics who couldn’t put a full sentence together.

You did two seasons on “Last Comic Standing.” What kind of impact did that have on your career?

It was torturous. The whole reality thing is crazy because whatever you give them, they can twist any way they want. You have to be conscious of every single word that comes out of your mouth. Coming from a big family and mouthing off the way I do, it wasn’t easy to do. But it brought my comedy to a new audience. People who are not staying up to watch “The Tonight Show” because they are busy with kids could catch you in prime time. It’s a different group.

Your last special, “Madigan Again,” went directly to Netflix. What spurred you to make that move?

The networks promote the premiere date, but then you never know when it’s going to air again. Netflix is a library that’s always there. When I speak to the networks I feel like I’m talking to my grandparents. When I speak to Netflix I feel like I’m talking to that weird, cool 25-year-old boy neighbor who knows a lot and is always in a hoodie drinking coffee. I want to be with him. The networks don’t get it. They need to be more flexible.

This year, we lost a lot of comedians. Did that shake you?

Yeah, all of them were shocking. John Pinette was sober, losing weight and on a good track. Joan Rivers was 81, but she wasn’t sick and had done a show the night before. Robin Williams had a lot of demons, but he had put himself in rehab earlier this year. I didn’t see any of it coming. It makes you go, “Nothing sucks too bad because I’m still here.”

Do you see yourself going into movies or TV?

I don’t particularly like any of it because I don’t have the patience for it. I went with Lew when he did a guest spot on “Big Bang Theory.” We got there at 4 p.m. and didn’t leave until 11 p.m. for him to do a less-than-five-minute scene. You must have to want to be an actor to do that, and clearly I do not. It’s a tedious process. My job takes 90 minutes. Next year you turn 50. Do you have any big plans? I’m taking all of next September off. We are going to have a giant blowout in Missouri. I’m making all my friends get on a plane, rent a car and drive three hours into the Ozark Mountains. But I’ve always felt 50. I’ve been working since I was 13.

Do you want kids?

Noooo! I really enjoy being an aunt. To me, if you are going to have kids, you need to create this environment where that’s the whole deal. I don’t understand people who have kids, get nannies and run around the world. I just enjoy my nieces and nephews.

You seem to stay away from any raunchy material. True?

I would be uncomfortable saying the things I hear people say. It would make me squirm. To me, it’s too public and in front of strangers. Some things are just private. I’d rather talk about Chris Christie losing it.

How has headlining theaters affected you?

It’s less combative. When you are starting out in the clubs, nobody knows who you are. People go to a comedy club to see comedy. Nobody paid a lot to see a specific person. If you saw me in a theater, you paid a certain amount of dollars, you probably already like me and you are excited about the evening. At a comedy club during the second show on Friday, the crowds typically have been up since 6 a.m., they’ve been drinking, they are tired and ally super hammered. Nowadays, I’m not at war anymore. I found the troops that like me, we are going to hang out and have a talk.

Who is in a Madigan crowd?

Middle-class, Catholic, worn out, functioning alcoholics that are a bit old school.

 

 

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Comedian Kathleen Madigan returns to Easton with consistent, hilarious set

By Dustin Schoof
The Express-Times
October 19, 2015

Kathleen Madigan did not have to dig deep for material on Friday night at the State Theatre. She instead poked fun at her family and herself.

The comedian on Friday returned to Easton for a performance that did not skimp on laughs, frequently using her family as fodder throughout the night.

Madigan poked fun at a brother-in-law, growing up with several siblings and her love of “House Hunters,” among other topics.

Madigan joked that when other comedians ask if if she parties, she responds, “If a party is sitting on my couch in my yoga pants with a glass of wine and watching ‘House Hunters,’ then, yeah, I party.”

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Kathleen Madigan: Owner of a ceramic fox named Easton and 14 other things we learned from interviewing the comedian

By: Dustin Schoof
The Express-Times
October 9, 2014

Comedian Kathleen Madigan is a late-night talk show staple and, according to The Detroit Free Press and popmatters.com, one of the “9 Funniest Women on the Planet.”

Her latest standup special, “Madigan Again,” was released in September on Netflix.

On Oct. 17, she returns to the State Theatre in Easton. Madigan last performed at the theater in 2012.

But did you know Madigan enjoys collecting ceramic animals and other curiosities from the cities she visits, including a ceramic Big Foot? Or that she is a fan of Bud Light?

Here are 15 things we learned about Madigan during a recent phone interview:

1.) She keeps a purple ceramic fox named “Easton” in her backyard.

The comedian says she purchased the ceramic critter from Easton-based boutique shop Mercantile Home during her last visit to the city. She named it Easton and keeps it in her backyard to remind her of the city from which it came. Madigan also purchased a ceramic squirrel, and unbeknownst to him, sent it to comedian Lewis Black to freak him out.

“I can find really weird stuff in Montana, but not if I’m Cleveland or St. Louis,” Madigan says. “I’ve got to go to little towns like Easton to find it.”

2.) Theater performances tend to attract looser audiences.

“(In) Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, there are certain states that have these old-timey, cool theaters. Even though I do (shows) at them, performing arts centers sometimes are staid and a little bit uptight,” she says.

3.) Madigan compares seeing her stand-up to watching the original “Arthur.”

“It’s an hour and a half of an escape,” Madigan says. “It’s like watching a movie, you’ve had a lot of fun, there’s no underlying message. I compare it to the movie ‘Arthur.’ I don’t remember why I like it but Dudley Moore is funny.”

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Comedian Kathleen Madigan says she’s looking forward to visiting UPAC in Kingston

By Paula Ann Mitchell
Daily Freeman
10/08/14

Kathleen Madigan will flat out tell you she has “good taste in men.”

“They’ve been supportive, nice and fun,” she said earlier this week by phone from her home in Los Angeles.

“Honestly, I’ve never had any issue with male attitudes in this business. Every single guy has been nothing but wonderful. I have four brothers, so maybe I just get it.”

Madigan, hailed in recent years as one of the most brilliant female comedians, took a moment in anticipation of her Sunday appearance at the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston to dissect the perceived anti-woman sentiment in the industry, particularly the most recently expressed by veteran entertainer Jerry Lewis last spring. “My experiences with guy comics and even club owners have been positive, and I’ve been very happy with the money I’ve made. I think it’s like a sort of a minor problem that magnifies and keeps building,” said the 49-year-old Missouri native.

Fact of the matter is some of the best-known and most beloved comedians in the world have sung Madigan’s praises.

Jay Leno calls her “one of America’s funniest female comics,” while Ron White describes her as “easily, one of the best comics alive.”

The 25-year veteran who was nominated for a 2014 American Comedy Award for “Best Concert Comic” will be bringing down the UPAC house on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m.

Though she’s been in the Northeast countless times, Madigan has never done a show in the MidHudson Valley, and a lot of it is just a blur for the well-traveled Madigan.

“I could be in New Hampshire and think I’m in Vermont,” she confessed when pressed about her regional appearances.

Even so, Madigan, who has performed on almost every standup TV show, including 15 times on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” promises to beguile her Hudson Valley fans with her signature sarcastic humor that includes a lot of barbs about her Irish-Catholic upbringing. Just don’t go expecting her to be heavily scripted or to tailor her act for this region of the country.

“My theme is I don’t have a theme,” Madigan said. “Sometimes, I like to poke fun at the South because they have some serious idiosyncrisies, but people are people. That’s the first thing you learn about going on the road. Really, they’re all just the same.

“If I have to describe my act, it’s like the movie ‘Arthur.’ It’s an escape, a mental vacation, which is what I think entertainment is supposed to be.”

Though a deeply embedded notion in Madigan, she didn’t go about planning a career in comedy. In fact, it was one of those things she discovered she was good at while pursuing a career as a writer.

Madigan earned a journalism degree from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 1988 and picked up work as a reporter for St. Louis-based newspapers. She also held a position in the publications department at the Missouri Athletic Club.

At about that time, Madigan began frequenting comedy clubs, where she performed during open mic sessions and discovered she had a bent for making people laugh.

Over the years, Madigan has credited her father, Jack, for encouraging her to go for it, and she hasn’t looked back. Her career began with the national chain of comedy clubs called The Funny Bone, and from there, it skyrocketed, according to her website, kathleenmadigan.com.

Not only has she won the American Comedy Award for “Best Female Comedian” and the Phyllis Diller award for “Best Female Comedian,” but she has written and produced for Lewis Black’s “Root of all Evil” on Comedy Central and for Gary Shandling’s Emmy monologues, her website notes.

She’s also done two USO tours to Iraq and Afganistan with comedic peers and friends like Lewis Black, John Bowman and the late Robin Williams. Moreover, Madigan has performed during concerts for Kid Rock, The Zac Brown Band, Kix Brooks and Kellie Pickler.

On top of all that, she remains the only comedian in the history of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” to go unchallenged by any other comedian and was a top-three finalist during season two and a judge during season five, the website says.

Madigan also can be heard on nationally syndicated radio shows like “The Bob and Tom Show” and “The Stephanie Miller Show” and has been repeatedly voted the No. 1 audience favorite on SIRIUS-XM Radio.

While all this sounds monumental, there are a few things Madigan has never done before that she’s aiming for before she calls it quits.

Playing golf in Bend, Oregon, and visiting Maine are priorities. Another is to live in Ireland at least four months of the year. Probably her biggest dream is to tour Canada by bus, visiting comedy clubs and performing arts venues along the way.

“I’m on TV in Canada and I always get people asking, ‘Why don’t you ever come to Canada? Why do you hate us?’

“It’s complicated. It’s hard if you’re not Canadian. They’re very loyal. They drive down here to see me. I should get my ass up there, even if I break even and don’t make a dime. I’d be really mad if I retired and didn’t get to do the Canada thing.”

For now, Madigan, who has gone on record saying she enjoys playing clubs and theaters over television, said she’s looking forward to visiting the Kingston venue on Broadway, and she’s hoping to make that personal connection with her fans, whom she hopes will sit back, relax and escape.

Just don’t expect her to get too confrontational. Madigan claims that’s simply not her style, prefering instead to toss out “silly, innocuous” and relatable jokes.

“I would never do something that I thought would hurt someone’s feelings,” she said. “I don’t feel the need to get too serious because that’s going against the point. I don’t want to wake up to a Twitter feed of people screaming at me.”

 

 

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