Kathleen Madigan: Gone Madigan
What I’ve learned from Kathleen Madigan’s standup routine, Gone Madigan, is that there’s a difference between “stage personalities” and, for lack of a better word, “real” personalities, and never the twain shall meet. Lewis Black, for example, famous for his own standup plus an ongoing stint on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, strongly endorses Madigan and introduces her routine on this Blu-Ray disc in his trademark booming, slightly hysterical voice, but shies away from the camera and shifts his eyes from harmless minglers in the special features section of the DVD.
Madigan herself, however, is the real deal. Not only is she funny, energetic and relaxed onstage, but she’s just as comfortable being her entertaining self for the more casual, behind-the-scenes cameras. I have a hunch that this woman was the class clown in high school. She doesn’t seem to have an off switch. She fully embodies her funny-lady role, owning the stage and captivating the audience.
Her routine, shot at the Gramercy Theater in New York City in 2010, is well-executed, well-edited, and flows seamlessly from one topic to the next. Her jokes cover the gamut of typical, safe material for comics – stuff that is, due to its absurdity, easily accessible and usually funny. Her topics include, but are not limited to: politics (useless and confusing, but occasionally
inspiring), unhealthy living (a necessary evil), religion (a brilliant moneymaking scheme), hypochondria (an unavoidable reality in the age of Web MD), healthcare (too confusing to even write a joke about … therein lies the joke … get it?), managing finances (a distant priority to watching “Cats who Look Like Hitler” on YouTube), immigration (begging to be a reality show in which people are “voted off”) and, last but never least, family (unabashedly alcoholic and unwittingly hilarious).
After the usual material is accounted for, it’s worth pointing out that Madigan is one female comic who doesn’t shy away from gimmicks that we all thought were reserved for the good ol’ boys of comedy (a few comics like Tracey Ullman excepted), such as foreign accents, feigned voices, rancid language, and celebrated substance abuse. She’s never self-conscious or self-depreciating about these factors. Her delivery takes on more of an “I don’t give a sh–; why should you?” tone. In fact, the overarching theme of Madigan’s comedy is “I don’t care,” and it’s truly inspiring that she obviously means this. She may be a lot of (proudly self-admitted) things – smoker, drinker, gambler, etc. – but she’s not a poser, and this adds a streak of abandon to her act that is contagious, endearing and, yes, funny.
The Blu-Ray’s special features include two behind-the-scenes spots. One shows Madigan running lines home-video style, in which she appears to be having almost as much fun as she does onstage. A second shows her meeting up with her beloved parents and sister, who quickly betray why Madigan is so hilarious. They, too, are un-self-conscious and completely open to being used as the butt of their loved one’s jokes. At most they occasionally contradict minor details of her routine, like which parent actually turned the photo printer’s captions to Portuguese and which one was stopped for a D.U.I. first. Which just serves to elucidate why Madigan uses their antics for material in the first place.