INTERVIEW: Kathleen Madigan sticks with what she knows, making jokes



The comedian is at Cobb Energy March 26.

Kathleen Madigan is a stand-up comic first and foremost. She doesn’t like acting as her buddy Lewis Black does. She doesn’t come up with board game ideas like Atlanta’s Jeff Foxworthy. And she doesn’t have a tequila line like her best friend Ron White.

At age 56, and after three decades of stand-up, she is happy to just tour, market herself through her podcast and tape occasional specials.

She is headlining Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre (capacity 2,750) Saturday, March 26, after her most recent visits to Buckhead Theatre (capacity: 1,800) in 2019. Ticket prices are $29.75 to $39.75. As of Friday, the concert appears more than two-thirds full.

Her folksy Midwestern observational humor, plucked off her old CDs, is regularly heard on various SiriusXM comedy channels. “I’m appreciative of SiriusXM,” she said. “You get paid by the joke.”

She has been touring heavily since last summer, making up for lost time. She has marveled over the vast inconsistency of vaccination and mask mandates over the months depending on the city. Fortunately, now, it’s close to normal. “It was like altered realities,” she said. “It was all so strange. And I never quite got used to seeing audience members in masks.”

Madigan during the pandemic started a podcast “Madigan’s Pubcast” like many of her peers. For her, it was an outlet just to get her opinions out. “My siblings all have real jobs,” she said. “Nobody wanted to talk.”

She said the podcast has been fun but she has chosen not to monetize because that’s too much work. Still, she said millennials come up to her after shows and say they found her podcast and decided to see her live. She’s done 80 episodes and has generated 2 million downloads to date.

“I’m 56,” she said. “I think I’m the cool aunt they wish they had around.”

She left Los Angeles six years ago and now lives in Nashville, with another place in the Ozarks, where she grew up. During the pandemic, she invited Ron White and Lewis Black to visit her in Nashville just for the company. For Black, who was stuck in his New York City apartment for months on end in 2020, the break was especially nice. “You can’t keep him inside with his own thoughts,” she said. (Black is also appearing at Cobb Energy Centre April 9.)

White, who told me earlier this year before his final Fox Theatre show that he was retiring, used to live in Suwanee in a nice home overlooking a golf course. Sometimes if he was out of town and Madigan was in Atlanta, she’d stay at his place. “I had all his passcodes,” she said. She also believes him regarding his retirement plans because he has told her he’d rather travel and play golf now that he’s in his mid-60s. “I plan to go to his last show so I’ll kill him if he changes his mind,” she said. “Don’t be like Cher!”

Madigan and White are both about a 15 handicap so their golf matches are competitive. At the same time, they don’t get hung up with lost golf balls in the woods. Black, on the other hand, will fulminate and hunt for any ball no matter how long it takes.

As for her next stand-up special she said she has most of the material ready to tape it June 4 in Denver. It’s her first special in six years and will appear on Amazon. (Her last one “Bothering Jesus” is on Netflix.)

Madigan said she doesn’t get recognized nearly as much as Black and White, but fans will often figure out who she is by her drawl. “Ron is so big with that crazy white hair,” she said. “You notice him. He’s huge. I can squirm around through anywhere and you wouldn’t notice me.” (She said she’s 5 foot 1, shrinking closer to 5 feet tall thanks to age.)

She knows if she had chosen to go into acting, she’d be better known. But she’s fine with that. “I got into this line of work so I didn’t have to work during the day time,” Madigan said. “Lewis likes it. I say good for him.”

And even doing her shows, she has gotten less picky over time. “As long as there’s a mic and the spotlight works, I’m good to go,” she said. “I’ve reached that point in my career, I don’t have to fight anymore. I’m happy where I am.”


Kathleen Madigan

7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 26. $29.75-$39.75. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta.

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