‘Fun ride’ still going for no-nonsense Madigan

Longtime comedian to visit Rivers on Friday
Comedian Kathleen Madigan will play Rivers Casino & Resort on Friday.
Comedian Kathleen Madigan will play Rivers Casino & Resort on Friday.

Kathleen Madigan has a bone to pick with politicians. It’s not about their views or policies, Democrats or Republicans, but about age. 

“I honestly remember when Ronald Reagan was 70 and the whole country was like ‘Oh my God, he’s 70. Is he just going to sh** in his pants on television?’ People were concerned that 70 was too old, and now 80 is apparently acceptable and I just don’t think it is. Not when [you’re] running the country,” Madigan said. 

The comedian spoke with The Gazette shortly before she headed to Schenectady for her Friday show at Rivers Casino & Resort. 

Madigan, a St. Louis native, has been a comedian for more than three decades and has spent most of those years touring the globe, including performing for United States troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. She’s won the American Comedy Award for Best Female Comedian and the Phyllis Diller award for Best Female Comedian.

But comedy wasn’t something Madigan initially planned to pursue. While she comes from an entertaining family, growing up, comedy wasn’t exactly top of mind when it came to a possible career. 

“I worked at a bar and went to the bar next door to drink. It happened to be a comedy club, and me and another bartender did open mic night for fun. I just kept doing it. It was literally an accident,” Madigan said. 

Since then, she’s developed a conversational and blunt style that makes her stories come off as both personal and universal.

Madigan draws inspiration from a mix of “regular life” experiences for her shows, whether it’s traveling or her latest news obsession or, more than likely, her family. 

“I don’t know what it would be like from a serious family. I think half of them could do what I do. They don’t, but they could,” Madigan said. 

“If you’re from a big family, you know that you never say anything directly to the sibling that you intend on saying something to. You say it to a different sibling and then they’ll say it to another sibling and eventually, it’ll go back to the sibling you intended,” Madigan said during her comedy special “Bothering Jesus.”

Even when she jokes about her family, Madigan said, they usually find it funny, too. 

“They enjoy it. We’ve had a fun ride with the whole thing going all over the world, festivals in Ireland, Australia, etc. I’ll either take a sibling or my parents. They’ve all been along for the ride,” Madigan said. 

She also usually talks about politics, though it’s harder to joke about President Donald Trump than previous presidents. 

“People are personally attached to him. The only other person I’ve seen it happen with was Sarah Palin. Let’s say Mitt Romney had won or Jeb Bush, nobody’s really personally attached to them. Like, you could do Romney jokes or Jeb Bush jokes, just like I did Clinton jokes and nobody got personally offended. But with Trump, it’s definitely personal. So most comedians I know have just stayed away and backed off because you don’t want to ruin a show,” Madigan said. 

That’s not to say she completely shies away from Trump jokes. 

“I have a few Trump jokes and I’ll do them, just like I would no matter who the president was. I had Obama jokes. But people get so upset if you even barely make fun of Trump. They’re highly sensitive over him. It’s really a phenomenon that’s strange. I know for a fact it didn’t happen with George W. Bush. I did all kinds of W jokes, nobody cared. They all laughed.”  

Another challenge to being a comedian these days isn’t getting a comedy special filmed (which she’s done many times), it’s figuring out where to air it, according to Madigan. 

“The goal is to get the new hour and then film it and put it somewhere. The question is where. Now it’s so complicated. There’s like 70,000 platforms and you have to pick what’s important to you. . . . That’s the business part. I don’t like being involved in it, but I have to be involved. It all changes literally daily. It’ll be like Amazon Prime wants to do a lot of dramas and then next Thursday ‘They changed their mind. They want to do comedy,’ ” Madigan said. 

“So it’s not like 20 years ago, where you just had Showtime and HBO and maybe Comedy Central, that was it, those three. You either got a special or you didn’t. Now, it’s just flooded. So I’m always working on a special. Where it’s going to go, I have no idea.” 

During her show at Rivers, which is part of her “Hot Dogs and Angels” tour, she’ll perform mostly new material in her usual blunt, no-nonsense style. 

“At this point, it’s like if you watch Jim Gaffigan . . . or me, you kind of know what [we] do and I just keep doing what I do,” Madigan said.  

Kathleen Madigan 

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday 

WHERE: Rivers Casino & Resort 



Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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