Kathleen Madigan is consistently one of the funniest people on the planet. Period. She has made appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” “Conan” and “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” and she appeared on “Ron White’s Salute to The Troops” five times, the latter reflecting her longstanding passion for performing for servicemen and servicewomen. She has been all over the world bringing her brand of humor to Americans serving in some of the most dangerous places on the globe. She took time during a tour stop in Detroit to call in and chat with LEO. Her Midwest, Irish-Catholic upbringing has given her a practical and logical perspective in her material, and it makes her very charming and casual in conversation.
LEO: Hi there. How are you doing today?
Kathleen Madigan: I’m great. I’m in Detroit enjoying this beautiful November day.
Yeah, it’s gorgeous in Louisville, too.
It’s like 70 degrees. I’m really sorry for future generations, but I’m really happy about global warming right now. We are currently living the unmistakable benefit of inevitable tragedy, but I’ll be long dead, so, for now, I’m going to enjoy it. [Laughs]
You have become one of the most well-respected comedians in the business. What do you perceive your role in modern comedy to be?
Solid. I think everyone would say I have solid material, solid jokes — it’s not changing the world, but it’s definitely funny. A little silly, or inane, at times. Paste Magazine wrote a review about me and said: ‘Some people get to the hall of fame just by getting a bunch of hits and never a home run.’ That’s how I would see myself. I’m really good for a single when you need it, and I feel no shame in that.
How do you feel like your sense of humor has changed after 28 years of doing comedy?
Not a lot, honestly. When you do the Montreal Comedy Festival, they’re very anal about sending you tapes of every joke you’ve ever told there, so you don’t repeat yourself. So when I go back and look at those, I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a performer, but, as a comic, the topics that I talk about are the same. It’s still the same stuff that interests me to talk about. I’m the same person on stage as I am off stage, so I talk about traveling, current events, politics, my family and sports. I don’t know — I’m definitely more confident. You’re not confident at all the first 10 years you’re doing comedy. But, I guess, it really hasn’t changed that much at all. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but it’s an honest answer.
You are a comedian who is constantly on the road. Does that ever get old, or are you so used to the motion that you can’t stand still anymore?
It’s a rhythm, for sure. I like it. I have seen the changes in these cities. I have friends in these cities. I like popping in once a year and seeing people. I just like the road. I know there are people who find that bizarre. My sister had twins, so I went home to help her, and, by the end of week two, I was like: ‘I’ve got to get out of here.’ I told her: ‘I haven’t been in the same place for three consecutive weeks since I was 23 years old. So this whole thing is very foreign to me.’ She said, ‘Do you see how fucked up that statement is?’ And I was like: ‘Well, I do. But I think it’s weird that you only leave home for three weeks a year.’
Netflix seems to be changing the game for comedians in the same way Myspace, Twitter and YouTube did. Why do you think so many comics are gravitating toward that medium?
I’ve had specials on HBO, Showtime and Comedy Central. They will tell you the date that the special premieres, and that’s it. They’ll play it after that, but they never tell you when. So unless someone scheduled time to sit down and watch the premiere, they just have to happen upon it. However, on Netflix, it’s on and available to everyone, seven days a week, 365 days a year. They don’t have to luck into tuning in when the station decides to run it. It’s entirely when your fans want to see it. It’s like a library of comedy. And also, inevitably networks always get involved, and they want to talk about your material. Netflix doesn’t care. You present them with your final piece of homework and they put it up. There’s not a word. Not a single conversation. That is wonderful for a comedian.