Photography credit Luzena Adams
Calling Kathleen Madigan, one of the world's funniest comedians of our time, to talk about her current tour of Boxed Wine and Big Foot was no easy feat. And, the fact that I think I am pretty drop-dead hilarious doesn't help. At all.
After watching her Netflix special, "Bothering Jesus," her shoulder shaking performance on Steven Colbert, her appearance on Comedy Central’s "This is Not Happening Here," and additionally, being a part of the ride in a laughter-filled carpool on Jerry Seinfeld’s hit web series, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” How funny did I think I was after all that?
Her material is good. I mean really, really good. With some jokes, you hear a little burst of firecracker laughs. Madigan, in turn, brings out the almighty “Finish Strong” fireworks on stage with her and blows up the audience with LITERAL side-splitting, crotch holding, nose snorting laughs. She grand slams her audience with material that is so real, so raw, and so familiar. Her jokes will shock you at times to the point you may be stupid if you don’t laugh.
C’mon people, you know we all think these things, yet out of fear of getting kicked out of cotillion or bible study, you don’t say such ugly things....well, Madigan doesn’t give a fuckity fuck. And listen up, my little magnolias, her modus operandi is fueled by the endless entertainment gleaned from her seven siblings and Midwest reared family. Her experiences provide her with a dead pan, bottomless amount of laugh-out-loud, real-life experiences and often unsolicited advice from mom and dad. With plenty of material at her disposal, her fiery Irish heritage and ability to deliver a sizable monologue based on her own comedic life, the closing line of her bit will leave you wanting more.
Whether it is a Guinness, a box of wine, or a Guinness dumped in a box of wine and drunk very quickly. You'll want more of Madigan. Come see her at the Charleston Music Hall on October 18th at 8:00 pm.
CB: How did you theme your latest stand up routine Boxed Wine and Big Foot, and what is your approach to writing the material?
KM: It took about 15 years, 18 months to 2 years to get to this place. My act is half of my special on Netflix streaming right now, "Bothering Jesus," a third greatest hits, and a third new material. My facts are in my formula. If I didn’t use my own life, it would be easy. Life doesn’t just leave someone.
CB: Do you have any “go to” jokes if you feel like you need to liven your audience up?
KM: At corporate gigs it can be super easy, I’m typically non-offensive and use an easy set I call the drinking the clown set. Although I am getting paid, it’s not usually my type of fun. I am excited to work in theaters and that’s when it’s not just a cake walk. I’m working to find my point.
CB: Do you have any pre-show regimens or after show must-do’s?
KM: The bigger the party the bigger the debt. I know my livelihood is more profitable without a team. I’m a smart little bird like that. I just want to play golf, catch up with my friends, and write notes in my notebook. I mean, I would also love to stop in a place and have a beer, but I’m a lot more simple than exciting as the musicians who tour are.
CB: In your writing process is it inspiration, circumstance, memories, eye-witness accounts or all of those things combined?
KM: All of it. Mostly what I do is, sit down and listen to what people around me are saying. Current events can be so bland. Life typically inspires my material ...If I’m in Michigan and a man asks to take me ice fishing. I promise he’s not a pervert, but I know when he says something that completely wrote itself, I’ll say to myself “oh, I’m keeping that.”
CB: If you were to write a book- or say a memoir or autobiography- what would it be called and would you title the chapters collectively?
KM: The title would probably be, "Well That was Fun (you have to get a real job)” I never thought about doing stand-up comedy. I have this deep-seated fear that I have gotten too lucky. I would add to the book a travel log and different states and airports I have visited. One chapter could be called “How to travel: what to do and what not to do in airports.”
Detroit airport, if you have never visited, you should. I would buy a condo in there. There is a full on Westin at TSA. There is PF Chang’s, live music, it’s one of my happy places. I could only wish for a two hour layover.
CB: How do you turn it off when you just want to be serious and not funny for a minute?
KM: I go fishing, hang out with my sisters and brothers and the kids. These kids live in a Netherworld and it’s instantly fun and takes you away. It helps to help homeless heroine addicted children in a McDonald’s, but at 10, they haven’t seen the drugs and haven’t experienced the “c’mon someone come help this kid.” In a perfect world, I would be hitting the golf course with Ron White and be on a golf cart ride and see deer and snakes. The south has a crazy awesome ecosystem.
CB: Is there an experience in your twenty nine years of stand-up, or let’s just call it “comedic abundance,” that has brought a smile to your face or created a beautiful memory you just cannot forget?
KM: Straight out of left-field, what comes to mind are trips to Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s always a weird, dreamy combo of me, Robin Williams, and Kid Rock... the soldiers are so appreciative and the locals totally allow us to go out of their comfort zones. So, we are able to be ourselves and make people happy. I never knew I could have so much fun in a war zone. We know that all the people and the locals are completely aware it’s as big of a shit-hole as we think it is. They just can’t say it. So we say it for them. We know they are thinking it.
CB: What is the most rewarding thing about being you? Plus or minus?
KM: Just to have an escape to make people laugh and be happy. My next joke is my next job. We have all been a part of happy and sad times. I choose to escape into the film "Arthur" or "Jaws," they always hold up. No matter the circumstances.