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Comedian Kathleen Madigan Draws On Jokes From Across Career

March 20, 2019
Comedian Kathleen Madigan Draws On Jokes From Across Career

For nearly three decades, audiences have come to love the quick wit and relatable humor with which Kathleen Madigan built her career.

On Saturday, March 23, the Missouri-born comedian returns to the area with her “Hot Dogs and Angels” Tour for a night of laughs at Wilkes-Barre’s F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts.

A past recipient of the American Comedy Award and the Phyllis Diller Award for best female comedian, Madigan earned her stage chops by performing 250 shows annually for the last 29 years. With 25 appearances on “The Tonight Show” plus numerous spots on other late-night TV programs alongside David Letterman and Conan O’Brien under her belt, Madigan gained a loyal following. Others may recognize her from her episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” with host Jerry Seinfeld or her fifth hour-long standup special, “Bothering Jesus,” now streaming on Netflix and available for download as an album on platforms such as iTunes.

At her Luzerne County show, Madigan said, guests can expect a compilation of her strongest, familiar material plus fresh jokes.

“It’s like one-third new, one-third from the last special and one-third greatest hits, so I feel like everyone got something,” she recently told The Times-Tribune by phone on her way to a charity event in Washington, D.C. “I think mixing it up has worked pretty good. When I get offstage, people always say, ‘I liked the new stuff.’ And I mean, I always have new jokes about my parents.”

While many other comedians dabble in hot takes on current events and social issues, Madigan said she prefers to keep her political content to a minimum, as she always has done.

“I always, if you go through the history ... there’s always about five to 10 minutes on politics and who’s in charge and the overall feeling I have about it — not even specific to who is in office,” she explained. “The problem with (President Donald) Trump is he moves faster than you can write a joke. You don’t want to write anything timely about Donald because he’s done 55 things by the time you get back. That’s more for the late-night (television) hosts. He’s like a lightning rod as far as people being super-passionate, either way.”

Madigan brought her talents to USO tours in far-flung places such as Iraq and Afghanistan and performed internationally in Ireland, England, China and Australia, but she spends the majority of her year crisscrossing the states. It’s a restless lifestyle that suits her, she said.

“I really still love traveling. I like the road and seeing what’s going on, seeing what’s out there and not being in one place,” Madigan said. “I like that it’s live and fast. It’s like a concert — boom, the person comes out, and then they’re gone.”

And while she does hope guests leave laughing as they recall their favorite jokes from the show, Madigan said she doesn’t want the takeaway from a night spent with her to be too heavy, either.

“I just hope they have a great time and go, ‘That was worth the ticket price.’ It’s like leaving a good movie and you go, ‘That was funny,’ and you’ll remember a few things about it,” she said. “I just want to make sure people feel like they got their money’s worth.”

Contact the writer: pwilding@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5369; @pwildingTT on Twitter

If you go

What: Kathleen Madigan’s “Hot Dogs and Angels” Tour

When: Saturday, March 23, 8 p.m.; doors open at 6:30

Where: F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre

Details: Tickets cost $25.50, $35.50 and $45.50, plus fees, and are available through the box office, kirbycenter.org or 570-826-1100.