Kathleen Madigan has been in the comedy business for 30 years. And as she’s traveled and met other people, she’s pondered the differences between being Catholic and being Christian… and whether a distinction really needs to be made.
“I think being Catholic is Christian. But it is pointed out to me many times in the South that they’re not the same. Because in the South, they’ll go, ‘Oh, are you Christian?’ and I’ll go, ‘Yeah, I’m Catholic.’ ‘Oh-ho-ho, well we’re Christian.’ ‘Oh, OK. I thought we said the same thing. But I guess not.’
“There are differences. The Christians have a direct relationship with Jesus, and they speak of it like that. ‘You know what. Me and my relationship with Jesus, well, I love Jesus, and Jesus loves me, and it’s a direct, very solid relationship with Jesus.’ And I thought, ‘Wow! Really? You guys go straight to Jesus!’
“In the Catholic school, I was given a laundry list of people to contact before … the nuns said because otherwise, I’m bothering Jesus. ‘You are gonna call these people, Kathleen, before you bother Jesus. You can start with your guardian angel. He’s got nothin’ to do, 24 hours a day except tend to your needs. If he’s not available, you can speak to the saint in charge of the activity you’re upset about. Every single saint has been assigned an assignment. You can speak to Jesus’ mother, if you’d like to. You can give Mary a shout. But you are NOT. TO BOTHER. JESUS.’”
Madigan told that joke during her hourlong standup special “Bothering Jesus,” which is streaming now on Netflix.
Madigan, 52, will be in Augusta during her “Boxed Wine and Bigfoot” tour at the Miller Theater at 8 p.m. April 12. She stumbled into comedy after she’d been working as a journalist for a little while.
“I worked at a bar and went to the bar next door to drink,” she said in a frequently asked questions list. “It happened to be a comedy club, and me and another bartender did open mic nite for fun. I just kept doing it. It was literally an accident.”
During her career, she has had hundreds of comedy gigs a year, ridden in a car with Jerry Seinfeld to get coffee and has appeared on “every late night show ever made.”
Her new album “Bothering Jesus,” released in February, is the highest-selling debut of any comedy album since 2014 and made the Billboard 200 Album Chart.
The Detroit Free Press asks, how is it “that Madigan has yet to be cast as the wise cracking a) best friend b) office worker or c) martini-swilling mother-in-law in any of countless sitcoms? We’re thinking it’s because she’s so irreplaceable on the stage. She’s described as the funniest woman doing stand-up right now, but no gender qualifier is necessary. Along with Lewis Black, Brian Regan and Jim Gaffigan, she’s one of the funniest stand-up comedians of her generation.”
Metro Spirit: Where are you right now, and what have you been up to?
Kathleen Madigan: I’m in New York; I’ve got a show tonight and a show tomorrow night in Easton, Penn.
Metro Spirit: I was watching some of your clips, and I’ve read a little bit about you… have you always been described as funny, and what were you like as a kid?
Kathleen Madigan: I mean, I guess. I don’t really know if I’ve always been described as funny, but everybody in my family’s pretty funny, so I guess I was funny as a kid.
Metro Spirit: Where in your family do you think you get your sense of humor, because I know usually we get it from our parents. Is that the same for you?
Kathleen Madigan: Yeah, just really, everybody’s got a pretty good sense of humor, so pretty much kind of everybody.
Metro Spirit: OK. Well, I saw you have a B.A. in journalism, so I’m curious about that. What led you to that choice of degree and how long did you work in print journalism?
Kathleen Madigan: I just couldn’t really do math and science, and I just figured I could write, so I just went and, in the Midwest, they don’t really tell you a whole lot of job options, so I thought, ‘Well, that sounds fun,’ and I did it for about a year and a half, and then I just went and did comedy full time.
Metro Spirit: Are you glad you got away from it? How do you perceive journalism now?
Kathleen Madigan: I really like comedy, so I don’t know what it would have been like if I’d stayed in journalism, but I think journalism’s gotten harder just because there’s a lot of bloggers and there’s just a lot of unchecked journalism that seems like journalism, so it’s harder for the real ones, I think, to actually get the respect they should get.
Metro Spirit: Do you think you would ever possibly go back to that if for some reason you get tired of comedy?
Kathleen Madigan: Uh no, I would not. I would just take the money I had saved up and open up a fun little bar.
Metro Spirit: Where would you open the bar?
Kathleen Madigan: Probably at this lake in Missouri that I have a place on, and my family’s down there on weekends and stuff.
Metro Spirit: Well, about your “Boxed Wine and Bigfoot” tour, what subjects are you touching on during this tour?
Kathleen Madigan: Mainly the same stuff I always talk about, like family, and travelin’ and some current events, and that’s usually what I talk about. So it’s always different material, but the same kind of subjects.
Metro Spirit: Yeah? I saw in another interview that you tend to stay away from Trump as a subject nowadays. Does that pretty much go for all politics in your act?
Kathleen Madigan: No, I actually have like 10 minutes on Trump, but the rest of them, too; it’s all just silly and inane though, like I’m not trying to make a big point or change anybody’s mind. He’s kind of hard to ignore.
Metro Spirit: Oh, yeah. He’s always out there. Now, do you frequently make religion a topic of your shows, like you did in the “Bothering Jesus” special?
Kathleen Madigan: Yeah, I think I have a lot of Catholic jokes just because it was a really big part of my childhood, and now my brothers and sisters have kids, and they’re sending them to Catholic school — some of them. Some of them are not. But yeah, it’s still a big part of my life just by being involved in my family.
Metro Spirit: Yeah. Well, I hope you don’t mind me asking you this, are you a practicing Catholic, or are you Catholic by birth?
Kathleen Madigan: I guess a little bit of both. Yeah, I’d say both.
Metro Spirit: OK. Well, I was wondering if you’ve ever decided to “bother Jesus” in your life.
Kathleen Madigan: Ha! Not the way that my Baptist friends would, no.
Metro Spirit: How do your jokes about that go down in the Bible Belt?
Kathleen Madigan: Good. They seem to like ’em; I mean, I don’t change a word. They seem to be able to laugh at themselves, too, so that’s good.
Metro Spirit: OK, good. Well, I’m originally a Midwesterner myself, from Nebraska originally, but I was raised much of my later life in the South. Do you think Midwesterners are that different from people in other regions?
Kathleen Madigan: No, I think everybody’s pretty much the same. I think — I mean, I’ve traveled the whole country and the cities… if anything, there’d be a difference between city people and rural people, more than there would regionally. Like, if you’re 50 minutes outside of Oakland, Calif., it’s the same as if you were 50 minutes outside of St. Louis. It’s just, past the suburbs of rural people vs. city people, but not really so much regionally. It’s more just the difference in the food and stuff like that.
Metro Spirit: Oh, OK. So I have to ask about this because I’m a big Jerry Seinfeld fan; I grew up watching him. How well did you know him before doing “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”?
Kathleen Madigan: Pretty well. We’ve been work friends for a long time, so I didn’t… like I know he’s famous, like I’m conscious of that, but I don’t think, ‘Oh my God, there’s this famous person coming.’ Like, it’s just Jerry to me. He’s just Jerry — in a good way, like a work friend, yeah.
Metro Spirit: When did you first know him, I know you started in what, like 1988ish, in your comedy career?
Kathleen Madigan: Yeah, ’89, I don’t remember where I first — probably in the clubs is where I first met Jerry. We’ve done a lot of fundraiser events together, and we all run into one another at festivals and stuff like that.
Metro Spirit: OK, cool. Well, before we wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to say about your “Boxed Wine and Bigfoot” tour?
Kathleen Madigan: No, but I know it’s the week after the Masters, so I hope everybody still has some energy left to come out.
Metro Spirit: Yeah, have you ever been to Augusta before?
Kathleen Madigan: I have, yes. There used to be a club there a long time ago, yes. … And I’ve been to the practice rounds at the Masters, too, because I really like golf, so I’m totally familiar with the place.
Metro Spirit: OK, awesome. Well, I hope you have a great rest of your tour.
Kathleen Madigan: OK, thanks a million, I appreciate it!
Metro Spirit: Thank you!
8 p.m. April 12
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