What do you get, or rather, whom do you get, when Lewis Black calls you “the funniest comic in America, bar none,” and Ron White says you are “easily one of the best comics alive”?
If you answered Kathleen Madigan, then you’ve been paying attention.
In an hourlong telephone conversation, Kathleen talks about everything from leprechauns and obesity to fillet mignon addiction and social media. Needless to say, like her act, the conversation was eclectic.
Madigan, originally from St. Louis, now living in Los Angeles, is coming to the Royal Oak Music Theatre to film her latest one-hour television special on May 4. Mark Ridley, of Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle, is promoting the show.
“My last special, Gone Madigan, was shot in New York,” she says. “I didn’t have a lot of say on location. This time around, though, I said that I don’t care what the cost is, we’re filming in Detroit.”
There were multiple high-powered and important meetings involved in setting up Kathleen Madigan’s new comedy special, which will be filmed next week in Royal Oak. If she tries hard, she might be able to remember some of them.
Her role basically consisted of answering the question, “Detroit? Why the hell are we going to Detroit?” Beyond that, she says, she mostly drifted off.
The business end of a television special is complicated, she explains, which is to say confusing. As someone who only recently learned that her DVD player could receive movies digitally from Netflix — the big sticker on it that said “Netflix” wasn’t enough of a clue — her time is better spent pondering other things, like how to greet people.
“I always say, ‘Nice to see you,’” says Madigan, 47. Not “Good to meet you,” because that has a very high embarrassment potential: “Meet me? I was your sister’s bridesmaid.” No, it’s better to go with nice-to-see-you, “like there’s some sort of natural disaster and we all survived.”
Comedian Kathleen Madigan has been in the stand-up business long enough that’s she’s seen the changes in media over the years from the interviewees perspective. Or rather, she’s heard it. There are two things that stand out. First, whereas interviewers who called her used to at least know a little something about comedy, now the person asking the questions might have read her Wikipedia page before picking up the phone, and that’s about it.
“It used to be very specified, like there was the theater review person who just wrote about plays and stuff, and there was the movie guy and then you had the concert lady,” she said. “Now it’s just all so blurred. I think people are getting stuff thrown on their desk and you can tell they don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s like if someone said ‘Hey, Kathleen, you have to call and interview this opera lady.’”
“Stuff just flies into my head and then I say it out loud onstage,” the 47-year-old comedian says during a phone interview from her home in Los Angeles. “I do have words written down so I remember the topic — like, I’ll write ‘post office,’ or whatever, so I remember what I’m talking about, but I don’t write jokes.”
It’s a habit that might have been influenced by the environment in which she grew up. She describes her parents and siblings as funny in a sarcastic way — without them putting any effort into it.
“Mom’s funny in a dry, dark way. My dad’s more of a storyteller guy … I would be a version of my dad, edited maybe.”
For such a funny person, Kathleen Madigan’s pretty serious. She’s serious about selling tickets; she’s serious about being done with podcasts; and she’s really serious about jokes. Jokes like “I am going to hell and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll finally get to meet Madonna.” Or “If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?” Or “Kids: It’s like living with homeless people.”
Madigan, 47, has spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan (on a USO Holiday Tour with Lewis Black and Robin Williams), but her time on NBC’s Last Comic Standing may have been more grueling, as she told us during a recent phone interview. Continue reading