What Kathleen Madigan lacks in stature, she’s made up for in career longevity. The 5-foot, 1-inch comedian has been touring for almost three decades, keeping busy in her downtime by making appearances on a host of TV and web shows, including a recent episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. We caught up with the comedian to talk showbiz and politics before her show at the Wilbur Theatre on Oct. 14.
Do you prefer live stand-up or TV? I’d rather do live stuff than the TV stuff. There’s something contrived about TV that’s kind of off-putting. I think everyone’s too uptight because it’s filmed. There’s something about cameras that makes people—including the audience—a little too weirded out.
That reminds me of when you were on Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and you had all your stuff with you, and Jerry was like, ‘What do you need that for? This is a TV show, we’re not actually going anywhere!’ [Laughs] Yeah, I know! And I was just like, ‘Yeah, but whatever, I’m not even sure I trust you, Jerry!’
What was your worst stand-up set? It was 100 years ago. It was called Bob Hope’s Ladies of Laughter. He was like 10,000 years old. And they must have brought the audience out from, like, a senior center, because my parents were the youngest people in the crowd. And that was horrifying. I think they thought I was just this terrible young person. [Laughs.] It did not work out well.
So were you the funny kid in school, always cutting up the class? Oh no, I went to Catholic school. I mean, they would have kicked you out!
Where do you find inspiration for material? For the last 25 years, not on purpose, it seems to be the same recurring subjects of politics, sports, my family and travel. Travel meaning all the things that happen on the road or I’ve seen on the road. The only thing I don’t really do is pop culture stuff. Kathy Griffin does it really well, and there only needs to be one 5-foot-tall redheaded woman doing that. And I don’t even know it. Like if a Kardashian came in this house, I wouldn’t know it was a Kardashian. I’d just be like, “There’s a strange lady in my kitchen!”
Speaking of politics, what do you think odds are that Trump is punking us and this is just one really long con? Oh, I don’t think it is anymore. I did think that was a possibility a long time ago. I think he’s the classic narcissistic personality disorder. He loves the attention, so I don’t get why Hillary’s people haven’t sat down and looked at that list. He’s got 10 out of 10 qualities of it. Just ignore him! He’s just waiting for you to say his name. I think the attention had caught fire in him; he’s not kidding anymore. In the beginning I did think, maybe.
And it’s not so funny anymore… Really! I think the problem is the media being whores! They let him come on all last summer. And nobody else was up and at ‘em, I’ll give Trump credit for that. That dude was doing media from 4 am to midnight. It’s crazy!
You have to give him credit for having somehow fooled a large portion of the free world… Yeah! Lewis Black, who’s one of my best friends, he always says that because the media is so splintered we have to do more press than we’ve ever done to get people to come to a show and let people know you’re in town. And I said, this would be wonderful if we were narcissists. But at some point, if you’re a normal person, you get sick of talking about yourself. Me, me, me, me, me. I mean, Holy Christ. But I could see if you’re a narcissist you’d be like, ‘Line ‘em up!’
Do you think he’s going to win? I don’t. But my biggest source of “Are you kidding me?” material is the Libertarians. Like the guy who didn’t know what Aleppo was? I said to Lou, the Libertarians are like acupuncture. It might work, but we just really need some Advil. [Laughs]