Q&A: Kathleen Madigan
Veteran stand-up Kathleen Madigan thinks she’d be on the road even if she hadn’t been a comedian. “I tried to be a flight attendant, but I was too short. I would have the same life now. The only difference is that when I land somewhere I tell jokes and they give me money. Instead of getting money from Delta, I fly on Delta, get money from somewhere else and get back on.” The 53-year-old comic takes the stage for the Aces of Comedy series at The Mirage on June 21. Las Vegas Magazine’s Jason Harris caught up with her in anticipation of the date.
What do you think of Las Vegas crowds versus the rest of the country?
I’ve been coming here for 30 years. I think that most comics would agree that when we say it’s a “Vegas” crowd, it’s a mix of everybody and they might not be the most sophisticated comedy crowds on Earth, but they are there to have a great time. I enjoy them. If it works in front of a Vegas crowd, it will work anywhere.
Are you still hitting the road 250 days a year? It seems like it would take a toll on you.
I always say I’m going to cut back, but then everything kind of falls into place and it seems like fun, so I just keep going. I’m sure I would probably be healthier if I could stay home all the time—I’m not even sure I would—but in my mind, I would if I could go to yoga three nights a week and then really go to the gym—like have a schedule. I think it’s the lack of any consistency, over time it definitely takes a toll. I feel better if I’m just home for three days in a row. Plus, I’ve developed some weird allergy to chemicals in sheets and crap, and I think that’s just from being on the road. I’ve become a mutant of laundry from the lack of consistency.
Your appearance on Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening is a beast. The story you tell about your vacation with your mother in Paris then Rome and getting caught up in a fake designer handbag scam is hilarious.
It turned into what the fuck. It was a great story and we still have the purse. One of my nieces has it now. It’s never leaving the family.
It’s like an heirloom now.
It really is. My mom said, “I don’t really use this. I’ll just give it to the church lady auction.” I go, “You will not!” This was a day out of our life to get this thing. Show some respect, Mom.
What do you think of This Is Not Happening on Comedy Central? It feels like long-form storytelling is finding a new level with comedy audiences.
I like it because they say what it is. As long as you know what you’re getting into, I’m up for anything. I don’t like it if I go to The Comedy Store and somebody is up there with a 14-hour-long story. Then I’m like, “No. This is a joke hut. This is for jokes.” I just like to know what I’m getting into. Is this a storytelling night? Or is this just stand-up night? There’s a difference to me. And sometimes I don’t have the patience for the storytelling. Even doing it myself. Which is why I don’t do it. Which is why I never said that story out loud other than to my dad and I’ve never said it again. I don’t do it onstage. It’s a crazy story.
Is it easier now for a woman to be accepted as a comedian instead of a female comedian?
I don’t know. Everybody has a different story, but I never even thought, “Oh, I’m a woman here.” When I started, the guys were nice. There were a couple of other women. It’s seemed like an even ratio to me. I literally never thought about any of that. Maybe it’s because I have four brothers, I don’t know. I specifically remember Texas. When I would go down to work those clubs, they would have open mic night on the night we got in and there were tons of women and that was way back then. I think, honestly, it’s almost like a myth that keeps getting regurgitated, that there doesn’t seem to be much truth left to it, but everyone keeps it going.
Your latest special, Bothering Jesus, is on Netflix. How’s your relationship with them?
I love working with those guys. They’re so hands-off. I’ve done specials for everybody else—Comedy Central, HBO, Showtime, etc.—and it’s just a process. And Netflix, I don’t even know if those kids watched my special. And I don’t care if they did or they didn’t. They just were like, “OK. Send us your movie and we’ll post it on Wednesday.” I’ve never been in a building that said Netflix. I’ve never had to go to lunch with people. I hate going to lunch. I’ve never had to have lunch with anybody or a meeting. But the check cleared, and the show is on. I love it. Nobody bothers you. They don’t say anything. It’s great.