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Madigan is still having fun making us laugh
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, March 23
Where: Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave.
Tickets: $25-$30; 520-7469, ticketswest.com
Stand-up comedian Kathleen Madigan is a workhorse. She has been on the circuit for 24 years, and she says she still does every interview she’s invited to do.
Her dry, working-class and sarcastic material can go head to head with that of any of her male counterparts. And it did in 2004, when she was a finalist on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” a reality show that pitted stand-up comics against each other. She returned as a talent scout in 2007, the show’s fifth season.
She has done all the late-night talk shows, hosts a regular show on Blue Collar Radio on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio and released her last DVD, “Gone Madigan,” in 2011.
She performs Saturday at the Pikes Peak Center.
The Gazette: I interviewed Lewis Black this year, and you were at the top of his list of who makes him laugh. How do you feel about that?
Kathleen Madigan: He gets $5 every time he says that, $10 if it’s network TV. For cable, he only gets about $6. We’re good friends, and I do like his act as much as he likes mine. After doing this for so long, comedians who are really good friends, you have to like their act.
Gazette: How has the landscape of comedy changed?
Madigan: The biggest way, and one I never have an answer to for younger comics, is how to get exposure. Everything is so splintered now. There are 900 channels. I’m not old enough to be of the Johnny Carson era, but I did read somewhere that 2/3 of the country watched Carson every night. There is nothing else that could do that now. Even “American Idol” gets only 30 million. And if there are 314 million people — I could be doing my math incorrectly — but that’s not 2/3 of the people. By the time I got there, David Letterman took over. Jay Leno was still a big deal but didn’t have the impact of Carson. Now I don’t know what to tell young comics when they ask me how to get more people to see their act. I do everything they ask me to do. If Craig Ferguson wants me, I go do it. With more outlets, it doesn’t mean people are paying attention. Media is the biggest change.
Gazette: After 24 years, why do you have such staying power?
Madigan: Tenacity. I wasn’t keen on being on a reality show. I thought the idea was kind of gross, but it’s network TV. I don’t think I’m above it, I just suck it up (and do it). The media is bizarre. You used to go to a town, and there would be two newspapers and two radio stations, and you tried to get those. Now there are websites and blogs, and there’s no time to vet them all, so I just do them. I could be talking to somebody in a basement for all I know.
Gazette: You worked in journalism right out of college, and during that time, you hopped up on stage. You must have had some sense that you were funny, right?
Madigan: I had no sense that I was funny. I went with a friend to a comedy club to drink. You’d see so many bad open mic people, and I said, I know I’ve said something funnier than that today. It was more like something to do. I didn’t think about being a comedian. And, then, a locally famous guy said I was really good and should come back. I had fun. As soon as I figured out how much an opening act makes and talked to other comedians, I thought, I’m going to go do this for a few years. I was 23 when I went on the road, and I thought even if doesn’t work out, I’ll be only 25. I can bounce back from that.
Gazette: As a woman, what different challenges do you face versus your male counterparts in the business?
Madigan: I think stand up is really fair. I’ve never been paid less than the men, and if I have, I don’t want to know. Don’t tell me now. If you’re funny and you can sell tickets at the club, they don’t care. Network TV goes in streaks. (Producer) Marcy Carsey gave shows to Roseanne Barr, Brett Butler and Ellen DeGeneres. She was a big supporter of women. But look at NBC. Come on. That’s the white guy channel. Every white guy gets a sitcom. The last black guy was Bill Cosby.
Gazette: It seems like you’re having a really good time on stage.
Madigan: I’m having fun. If there’s somebody there that you haven’t told something to, that you think is funny, you’re going to have fun again. Even some of the topics I’m sick of, when I say them out loud, I’m still having fun.
Jennifer Mulson may be reached at 636-0270.