Preview: Comedian Kathleen Madigan At The Egyptian Room

One of the most decorated stand-up comics makes it look easy.
Kathleen Madigan gets us. The St. Louis native (“Ferguson—maybe you saw our travel brochure?”) and veteran comic understands the Midwestern mindset. Not only has she come by it honestly, but it has come into sharp focus while performing overseas on USO tours. So when Madigan performs at The Egyptian Room Thursday, January 25, it might feel like she stepped out of the audience to talk about our very lives.

Madigan is such a natural, she really could hop on stage spontaneously and glide through a set. She’s not the type of comedian who writes and finesses jokes. “Those kind of people are not my friends,” she says. (Incidentally, her BFFs are fellow comedians Lewis Black and Ron White.) She simply wisecracks about what’s going on or her big Irish family, and it works—she has won nearly every comedy award under the sun and filmed two Netflix specials throughout her 25-year career. She’s observational, but doesn’t muse about meaningless or ordinary things—she’s engaged with what’s happening in the world. Recently, she went to buy Fire and Fury in a Southern city. “I could have guaranteed you there would be comments about that,” she says. “I’d already called around, and some stores weren’t selling it. So I’d come home and tell you what happened.” Such a recounting is exactly what she would say on stage, relaxed and confident. In her episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld describes her as “practical and fun. She makes a lot of sense but not too much sense. Just enough to be hilarious.”

Winging it—or at least not rehearsing the beats and rhythms of her delivery—makes Madigan feel like an old friend. “Most of the people who are very successful, [their performances are] naturally what we’d be doing in a bar anyway,” she says. “That’s letting the cat out of the bag a bit. But it’s not hard. I’ve been waiting for years for someone to knock on my door and say, ‘Okay, lady, you have to get a job now.’”

Who knows what will happen and influence her set this week, but we suspect these topics might be on her mind:

Mike Pence

Right now, Madigan is highly concerned about the average age on Capitol Hill. “We have octogenarians governing us, and I’m not comfortable with it,” she says. “I don’t want to be governed by a Florida bridge club. My parents are smart, but there are also health issues. They have great hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They’re on fire. After that, they don’t know where their car is. Whether you’re an R or a D, why is it okay that Orrin Hatch is not be thinking about retiring? He’s 84. Doesn’t anyone miss him? Isn’t anyone saying, ‘Where is Paw-Paw Orrin?’ There’s something the matter with these people. That’s who’s in charge of us.”

Hey, Pence is a youthful 58. “That’s shocking to me,” she says. “He’s pulling a Hollywood age thing. I think he’s 78. Or that’s just what an uptight, fake life does to you. That white hair makes him look a lot older. That is not a fun 58.”

Indiana’s weird highway rule

After visiting every corner of Indiana over the years, Madigan knows the lay of the land. But one thing about Indiana perplexes her: Our “No Stopping or Standing” interstate signs. She has never seen this advisory anywhere else. “Is that a problem?” she wonders, sincerely. “Are they talking about prisoners?”

Gyms—because New Year’s resolutions

Let’s hope Madigan delivers her impression of a humorless Millennial at hew own gym, who asked Madigan’s reason for joining. Madigan: “I am here to delay the time and severity of my impending stroke.” Millennial: “You don’t think this is fun?” Madigan: “Fun? I’ve never stayed so late at a gym that I got kicked out.”

Kurt Vonnegut

Lewis Black always urges Madigan to visit the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library when she plays Indianapolis; he can’t get enough of it. “I tell him, ‘I’m not going. I don’t have to visit it every time. I’ve been,’” she says.


Kathleen Madigan: Boxed Wine and Bigfoot, January 25 at the Old National Centre’s Egyptian Room, tickets $37.50,