October 04, 2006
Kathleen Madigan has been called the best female comedian in the country by Jay Leno. She sat down with Indy editor Rick Murphy, who has been called "a legend in his own underwear." Madigan will be appearing one-night only this Sunday at 8 p.m. at Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor. Call 725-9500 for tickets.
Q: Joan Rivers once told me Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce were the only two comedic geniuses of the last century — do you agree?
A: I only like to use the word genius for people like Albert Einstein or Star Jones. If you're forcing me to pick one, um, then, I'll say my mother but she's yet to perform outside of her house but she's very, very funny. And Martin Short.
Q: Who were your influences growing up?
A: Shaun Cassidy (wanted to marry him), Willard Scott- the "Today Show" weather man because I thought, "Wow, he has no skills and he's on national television," Marlon Perkins (when I wanted to be a zookeeper—ages seven to 11) and I liked Roseanne as a comedian.
Q: Do you get stage fright? If so, how do you deal with it?
A: No, I don't. Perhaps I'm not really smart enough to realize that it's a bit frightening. Sometimes, if there's like 5000 people and I start to think, "Wow, these people all bought a ticket to see me," I can freak out. This is why I try not to think of it.
Q: You've appeared on all the talk shows. Talk about Leno and Letterman.
A: Leno could not be a nicer man and he's good to comedians. He knows we usually get treated like crapola and goes out of his way to make sure that doesn't happen. He even talked to my Dad on the phone, but my Dad can't hear well and hung up because he had no idea who it was. Letterman is a little harder to get to know, but post-heart problems he seems to be less distant.
Q: And Conan O'Brien?
A: My favorite show to do because they are sooooo relaxed about what anyone does. They're like, "We're on at four in the morning...just be funny and don't say the "F" word." Their time slot has a lot to do with the relaxed attitude. Leno and Letterman do have to be a little more serious, I guess.
Q: There is a history of brilliant female comedians dating back to when television was a male-dominated medium, for example Gracie Allen and Lucille Ball. Do you see them as opening doors for the younger gals or simply as funny people?
A: Lucille Ball not only did that (opened doors), but was one of the first women to own an entire production company/studio. I just read her autobiography and I think everyone should know that when she was starting out in San Francisco, Maya Angelo was a calypso singer at the same club. NOW try and take her poetry seriously. Phyllis Diller is my female hero. She was the first woman to stand on stage, alone, with no props and just tell jokes. No song, no dance, no wacky partner, just jokes. Her jokes are still funny because she's funny.
Q: Name a performer you've worked with who knocked you out, who you heard and said "God this person is unbelievably talented."
A: Ed McMahon on "Hollywood Squares." Alright, I'm kidding. Um, a man named Andy Kindler but no one will know who that is. Roseanne is always and still funny. I love Fred Willard doing anything. Oh, and I did "The Martin Short Show" — he is also one of the strangest, yet most creative and funny people I've ever been around.
Q: Contrast that with someone (don't be afraid to name names) who you've appeared with who really had no talent to speak of at all, someone about whom you maybe mumbled to yourself, "How the hell did this guy make it this far?"
A: Weird Al. I'm mean really??? How many of these parodies will people listen to? And Gallagher. Maybe the watermelon was funny once, but my god. And Andrew Dice Clay. Uggggh. I'd rather shove pencils in my eye than listen to him utter anything. You can also add any ventriloquist to my "are you f-ing kidding me" list.
Q: Ballplayers want to be musicians; what do comedians secretly wish they were?
A: Rock Stars. Homeowners. Pet owners. Normal people with normal lives. How's that for depressing? Wait, this is supposed to be comedy . . .
Q: President Oprah Winfrey: discuss.
A: And Vice President Gayle King. If she made one day a month a giveaway day (like her Christmas giveaway show) she'd never have bad poll numbers. Americans, myself included, love free crap. I believe she is more articulate than our current president, so why not? Why don't we see just how hard the job is and elect someone who's never held an elected office in their entire life. Brain surgery we know is hard, but do we really know if being president [requires] political experience? I say, since Rome is burning anyway, let's use our last match for OFRA (that's what my father calls her).