Radio and TV Talk

Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

Catching up with Kathleen Madigan (Buckhead Theatre, January 7)

This was posted Wednesday, January 4, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Kathleen Madigan is a tried-and-true stand-up comic. She doesn't do acting. She doesn't write novels. She doesn't have her own line of T-shirts with a catchphrase on it. She doesn't even have any catchphrases like some of her peers Bill Engvall and Jeff Foxworthy.

She is on the road 250 days out of the year doing 170 shows, 150 of them paid and another 20 for charity. ("I still like the road," she said.) She just came out with her third Netflix special "Bothering Jesus." And she stops in Atlanta Saturday, January 7 for two shows at the Buckhead Theatre. This is her first visit to that locale after having done the comparable sized Variety Playhouse a few times. ("I'm going to miss the cats behind the Variety. It was like a farm back there!")

Madigan said the week after New Year's could be considered a challenging one to sell tickets to much of anything with everyone burned out by the holidays. Then again, she said "the holidays are full of obligations. You have to spend time with gramps. You have to go to that work party. You have to shop. Now people can maybe do something they want to do!"

Indeed, as of the time I'm writing this Tuesday afternoon, the early show has all of seven single seats left.  The late show had about 75 seats left, with some still together. UPDATE: On Thursday afternoon, they added 26 more seats to each show. (Buy what's left here or pay a bit more on Stubhub.)

At age 51, she said she has no plans to cut back her heavy workload. "My little brother handles my finances," she said. "He's the finance guy. He said if I can crush it for five more years, I'll be fine."

Her comedy is very approachable, very comfortable like your close buddy throwing out good-natured barbs and observational nuggets at the local bar. She's been doing stand up for 25-plus years and it shows - in a good way. During her "Bothering Jesus" special, she tackles massive old-age communities, her utter lack of parenting knowledge as a non parent and her obsession with the show "House Hunters."

"I love that show, I do," she said on stage. "I don't know why. I don't even care about what houses these people are buying. I'm more interested in their relationship. At least 50 percent of the people shouldn't even be married much less be purchasing property. I saw one in Atlanta.  It was a man and a woman. They walked into the house and the first thing out of the man's mouth, he goes: 'Ah! I can't live with this back splash!" Oh my God, ma'am. You have a much bigger problem than what  going to buy. You have accidentally married a gay guy and his boyfriend is not going to approve of this ugly back splash when he comes over here while you're over at yoga aka drinking with your girlfriends on a Thursday."

She opens the special with her own tongue-in-cheek intro song. She said it costs a fortune to use famous people's tunes, sometimes up to $50,000. So she asked her friend and Canadian singer Jann Arden (biggest song: "Insensitive") to put something together for her. "What she came up with was so silly, I laughed," she said.

The lyrics: "Kathleen Madigan! Kathleen Madigan! She's coming on the stage now. She's going to be here shortly. She even puts on some pants on. At least I think she might have. Cos she's professional. Kathleen Madigan!"

"She charged me... nothing!" Madigan said.

Madigan is grateful to Netflix for fueling her growing Millennial fanbase. But she finds them... different. "They don't like to have a relationship," she said. "They don't like to talk. If I say, 'Call me!' it's like, 'Why don't you snapchat us Kathleen?' They're very efficient, super smart and agreeable."

She gets no statistics from Netflix how well her specials do. "It's a big mystery," she said. "Only the Wizard knows." But she appreciates how hands off they are. Plus, it's always available.

"It's like a giant forever library. Even my parents understand Netflix," she said. "They type in my name and my specials pop up!"

"I had specials on HBO, Comedy Central and Showtime. I know when they premiere but I have no idea when they repeat them." She said network TV has become archaic, "dinosaurs. Hulu and Amazon are monsters on their back."

She tests how effective those Netflix specials are by asking the audience how many had seen at least one. She said usually more than half raise their hands. "I have a joke about it," she added, noting that she is not merely trying to gather intelligence.

Her brother told her he once noticed that Netflix will recommend other programs for people who enjoyed her specials. The most amusing recommendation: the 1993 horror flick "Leprechaun," starring a pre-"Friends" Jennifer Aniston. Madigan happens to have Irish roots.

"What kind of Irish racist BS is that? "she said with faux outrage. "That isn't even my genre! Analytics did it. Millennials love analytics!"


"Kathleen Madigan: Bothering Jesus"

7 p.m., 9:30 p.m. Saturday, January 7, 2017


Buckhead Theatre

3110 Roswell Road, Atlanta

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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