And to think she could have been a figure skater …
BEAVER CREEK – Kathleen Madigan hasn’t always been funny. Growing up in St. Louis, she was one of seven children and thus unable to get her parent’s attention for any of her talents.Madigan was reminded of this as she was watching the figure skating events in last month’s Winter Olympics. She recalled her own childhood figure skating hobby.”You really see how the parents of young athletes are living out the child’s dream,” Madigan said. “My parents didn’t pay attention at all. I wish my parents had a dream; any dream. I could have been an Olympic figure skater, and my parents would have never known it. I could have been paralyzed from the waist down, and my dad would have been like, ‘That’s the lazy kid.’Madigan shared her Olympic thoughts on her most recent appearance on an episode of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” one of many programs, including “The Conan O’Brien Show” and “The Late Show with David Letterman” on which she does her stand-up routine regularly. Madigan also has her own show on Comedy Center, HBO, and contributes regularly to programs on VH1, E! Entertainment and FOX.Madigan is also working on some independent side projects.Earlier this week, she was interviewing someone from the group that spent $28,000 on EBay on a grilled cheese sandwich imprinted with the face of the Virgin Mary.In the vein of “Trekkies,” a documentary featuring hard-core “Star Trek” fans, Madigan is working on a pilot about individuals who have claimed to see apparitions of the Virgin Mary.
“Some are fun. Some are sad,” said Madigan of the sightings. “I’m not in it to be hilarious. I just want to let people talk. It blows my mind on the news when they say something like, ‘the Virgin Mary was spotted in downtown Chicago. Now onto sports.’ I want to get the story.”After leaving her potential figure skating career in a dormant state, Madigan tried her hand at journalism, but didn’t last long because the pay didn’t make up for the hours required of the job.”They didn’t pay anything,” Madigan said. “They’d say, ‘Drive to north St. Louis to interview the crazy old lady with the stamp collection.’ Well, guess what? I drive all the way out there and the crazy old lady wants to be my best friend and I end up spending like the whole night there and I come back and they pay me $75.”Inspired by the ‘people who sucked’ Thus, Madigan moved on to the more financially rewarding occupation of bartending, where a friend dared her to try her hand at a five-minute comedy act for open mic night.”It’s the people who sucked who made me want to do it,” Madigan said. “If I’d go into a club and see Roseanne, I’d be like, ‘No way.’ If you see horrible people at open mic night, you’re like, ‘I know I can do a lot better than this.”Thus, Madigan’s hidden talent was unveiled and comedy clubs began requesting her act. Now she is a part of the circle of America’s great comedians, having worked with everyone from Robin Williams to Jerry Seinfeld.She would have never imagined her future taking such shape as an angst-filled, antisocial teenager.”I was a total, ‘I don’t give a shit about any of this,’ kind of kid,” she said. “At school, I was always out in the smoking area. I wanted to be Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders.”Now that Madigan’s parents are retired and no longer have to look after seven children – three of whom went on to become engineers and another a school teacher – Madigan has subcontracted them to help her with some of her DVD mail outs.
“My mother is excellent,” Madigan said. “She’s German and she’s so good at tasks. If she’s given an order, her stuff is sent out on-time, with ‘Thank you’ cards and everything.”The chemistry of amusementMadigan has refined the art of eliciting laughter, and believes that 50 percent of it is writing good material and 50 percent is snappy delivery.”There’s a ton of guys I know, their jokes are really funny and they’re the worst performers ever,” Madigan said. “Me and a bunch of other comedians will sit in the back and say, ‘Oh my God, I could make that sound so funny.’ Then there are better performers like Robin Williams. He’s a theater major. He’s got his gay accent, his black accent, versus, like Seinfeld who is not that much a performer as much as a writer.” Having worked with just about every famed comedian around, Madigan has only detected one common thread among those who have become successful in careers steered solely toward making people laugh.”The only thing in common is that no comedian is really a hottie,” she said. “Name one comedian that you think is gorgeous, male or female. It doesn’t happen. They’re usually the odd man out in high school, and just, not really attractive.”While Madigan didn’t go down the Chrissie Hynde path of black eye liner and ratted hair, she feels she ended up looking like Jane Doe.”Looks-wise, I look like everyone’s cousin or neighbor,” she said. “Yeah, I think I’m cute enough. But with comedians, it’s never going to be like, Robert Redford. All those gorgeous people end up being actors.”
Stand-up comedyWhat: Comedian Kathleen MadiganWhen: 7:30 p.m. SaturdayWhere: Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver CreekInformation: Tickets are $40. For more information, visit http://www.vilarcenter.org, or call 888-920-2787Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext.14632, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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