For 25 years, 300 days a year, Kathleen Madigan has pulled the laughter out of crowds all across the world. But for her, comedy is just another ordinary job.
“I just keep telling jokes, and people keep paying me,” Madigan joked.
This Friday, Sept. 16, Madigan will bring her Mermaid Lady Tour to Pittsburgh’s Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall. The tour, which started in Connecticut this January and will end in Gettysburg, Pa., in May, is the continuation of her take on everyday experiences and personal endeavors.
Don’t be fooled by her midwestern accent, blue-collar work ethic and resistance to self-indulgence. Madigan, 50, hangs with Hollywood legends Lewis Black and Jerry Seinfeld, cracks jokes in opera houses and has graced almost every late night talk show out there.
But from Leno and Letterman to headlining The Mirage in Las Vegas, Madigan insists she’s nothing special. She would rather just talk about the St. Louis Cardinals. “We got our asses kicked — somebody just beat us 12-5 the other day,” she said.
Educated in Catholic school, where if you tried to be funny, “you would get in trouble,” before attending commuter college and later landing an internship with the St. Louis Blues, Madigan built the résumé of any successful person with a more traditional career path.
Her transition into being a “funny person” began on a whim at St. Louis’ Funny Bone, a local comedy club. Aware of occasional open-mic nights, Madigan and a co-worker “just did it for fun,” and her career progressed from there.
“I just started telling jokes and kept going down that path,” Madigan said. “I didn’t have any expectations because I didn’t know what to expect … You just make enough money where you can keep going doing [comedy] instead of doing something else.”
Madigan’s multifarious path even led her to entertaining US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, though in a previous tour she playfully lamented, “Don’t we have any troops in San Diego for Chrissake? How about a little ha-ha in Honolulu before they set sail?”
“I think it’s nice to do stuff for free every now and then,” Madigan said. “It’s part of a group thing where you’re doing your part. I’m too scared and too old to join the National Guard, so I would rather just entertain them.”
When Madigan’s tour wraps up, she’ll have spent nearly a year and a half on the road. She doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon, though, hoping to tour with Lewis Black all across Canada. As for the eight months left on this run? Madigan has plenty of material to keep her going.
“I just write my stuff from everyday life,” she said. “Every day, something else may or may not happen, then it may or may not be in the act. It just kind of does its own thing.”