Talking to Kathleen Madigan About Her New Standup Special, How Her Shows Are Like Bar Conversations, and Why She’s Not Part of the Scene
A 25-year veteran of standup, Kathleen Madigan may be one of the most consistently great storytellers in comedy. Her third standup special, Madigan Again, premièred earlier this month on Netflix and will be available for download later this the year. She can also be seen on The Late Show with David Letterman next Friday, Sept. 27. I got the chance to talk to her over the phone recently about getting invited over to people’s houses, not knowing real jokes, and why she and Lewis Black have never been in the cool kids’ club. Continue reading
Kathleen Madigan is often called the funniest person in the room—typically by fellow comics like Lewis Black and Ron White—and she will aim to keep that distinction at Yoshi’s in San Francisco on Sat., Sept. 14, 2013.
It’s the first time Madigan will perform at the venue after a quarter century of telling jokes.
“There’s a resurgence in the type of place my parents would have called ‘the supper club,’” Madigan said of the classy joint. It’s more relaxed than a comedy club, more intimate than a theater and offers better food and drink options than both.
“And you’re not with a bunch of college kids or a bachelorette party like at the Funny Bone,” she laughed.
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.’”