In "Gone Madigan," Kathleen Madigan's first hour-long stand-up set recorded for DVD since 2006, she proves that she remains one of the best women, if not the best, working on the stand-up comedy circuit.
She does so simply by using her common-sense philosophy to analyze the madness that surrounds us.
Of course, it helps to have the backing of another popular comedian in Lewis Black, who jokingly calls her "my BFF" before introducing her to the stage in New York City for the taping of "Gone Madigan" (it debuted over the weekend on Showtime, and will be available on DVD as of Jan. 11, 2011).
After first ingratiating herself with the audience by acknowledging her perennial obsession with using WebMD to self-diagnose her imaginary diseases, Madigan notes that, much like Black, she has gone overseas several times to entertain the troops. In fact, Madigan and Black usually go on the same USO Tours together. Whereas Black talked on his most recent DVD about a gig on which they shared the bill with Vince Gill, Madigan poked fun at sharing bunk beds and troop visits with Kellie Pickler. "Kellie's hilarious, but she doesn't know why," Madigan noted. More impressively, Madigan took a look at the cityscape of Afghanistan, and after receiving a military briefing about how much American efforts have improved it, observed: "That's amazing. When we're done, we should invade Detroit!"
Madigan, who grew up in and has family in St. Louis, also wondered about how many people signed up for the National Guard after seeing a TV ad and imagined they'd be stuck in Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Bosnia. "That is good for Bosnia, but who the fuck is guarding Missouri?"
Related side note: Madigan just embarked on her 2010 holiday USO tour, and here she is in some footage from a recent show at Camp Liberty in Iraq. Roll it!
Back to "Gone Madigan," though, Madigan still acknowledges that during the 2008 election campaign, she preferred Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama, and jokes both about the arguments she had with her father about it, as well as how Obama got the last laugh by keeping Clinton out of the country as Secretary of State.
If you want to know how a couple of Catholics would react to a tour of the Mormon Temple, how to use our fear of terrorism to improve health care, how to solve illegal immigration through reality TV, how to know why Sarah Palin isn't right, what job Paula Abdul should really have, how Madigan knew the economy was falling apart years ago, and why people believe in leprechauns -- well, Madigan has a take on all of that that's both funny and reasonable.
She takes on Oprah, the nightly news, and Tiger Woods, all without going for the first joke.
And Madigan gives several examples of how her family's inane conversations and stories have fueled her stand-up long before anyone went to Twitter or CBS to share the $h*! My Dad Says.
But it has been the no-nonsense wit and wisdom that Kathleen Madigan says that has kept her busy and rewarding as a headlining comedian for the better part of two decades. She can go Madigan anytime as far as I'm concerned.
Maybe all of those ads in Aruba for Aruba have convinced Lewis Black that he's ready to take his comedy to the Caribbean. Well, at least for a week. On a boat. With some of his funny stand-up comedian friends: John Pinette, Susie Essman, Dom Irrera, Kathleen Madigan, John Bowman, Larry Wilmore and Ted Alexandro.
Because that's what's happening this November. It's Lew's Cruise? Yes. Lew's Cruise. As Black himself explains on the site:
"Because this show just can't happen on dry land. A cruise offers the possibility of a week of unlimited fun. And we can all go a little crazy and just walk back to our rooms. It provided me the opportunity to spend time with my good friends, who also happen to be some of the funniest people I know. And its a week of non-stop comedy and all sorts of chances for you guys to see where the funny comes from with q and a's and all sorts of other surprises that will be revealed shortly on this site.
"Don't whine to me if you miss this once in a lifetime opportunity. A vacation. And constant live entertainment. You can rock climb on this boat, why I don't know but you can. You can surf on this boat. Don't ask it wasn't my idea. So join us you pricks, who knows, it may even make me smile."
Other activities include a screening of My Favorite Year and Q&A with Mark Linn Baker, Madigan calling BINGO games, Irrera holding forth on his "Comedy Court," improv lessons with Joe Grifasi, and the other activities and excursions you can normally expect on a cruise.
It'll all take place on Royal Carribean's Liberty of the Seas, seven nights, leaving Miami on Nov. 7, 2010, and heading to Costa Maya, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico; and George Town, Grand Cayman. Prices for the cruise start at $1,459, not including transportation to Miami.
The TBS broadcasts from the inaugural Just For Laughs Chicago festival kick off tonight with Let Freedom Hum, a stand-up showcase hosted by a Canadian sketch actor, Martin Short, and featuring very little in the way of humming and nothing that we heard about the joys of freedom. But they put the title on the Internet and your TV listings, so let's just get to it.
As I mentioned last week, Martin Short certainly did his part to enliven the proceedings -- in addition to taped bits that brought back Ed Grimley (without pants!), Jiminy Glick and Lawrence Orbach, Short's opening monologue was both topical and edgy. The audience gasped at a number of his zingers, including one joke in which he called Adam Lambert a fruit, and another in which, in front of several TBS executives, he zinged the network by saying: "Meanwhile, TBS viewers are saying, who knew Tyler Perry was so light-skinned!"
But what about the stand-ups? Chicago native John Roy warmed up the crowd beforehand and delivered one of the better sets of the night, joking about how the locals are tougher because of the city's frigid winters and are fatter because of what they eat (though you'll see none of this on TV tonight, Roy did tape a performance at Zanies last weekend for a new stand-up series TBS will debut later this year).
Earlier in the day, I caught up with Tom Papa and Kathleen Madigan as they ran through their promotional photo shoots. Through the magic of my Flip cam and the snapshot function, this moment in time has been captured for posterity. I think Papa had powder in his eye. Or he's winking at us! Either way, Papa got things rolling on the right note once he hit the stage, mocking billionaires who have been killing themselves because, having lost their money in the recession, they could not stand to live like the rest of us. He also poked fun at his own life as a husband and father, and had the audience in stitches as he recounted trying to have a conversation with his parents online via Skype. Madigan was next up, and wanted us all to know how not to be jealous of her for having to visit her parents outside of St. Louis, and how much drinking must be involved to cope with life as a Madigan. She also curiously was eager to revisit the 2008 presidential election and Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama (did I mention we were in Chicago?) and expressed the fact that she was too cynical for hope.
Martin Short blew into Chicago this week and created a flurry of excitement with the return of some of his most famous comedy characters, and may have even topped that last night by delivering zingers that shocked the live audience for the taping of Let Freedom Hum, the TBS special from Just For Laughs Chicago that will air a week from today, at 10 p.m. June 26.
The live audience, which included Second City legends Harold Ramis, SCTV co-founder Andrew Alexander and producer Joyce Sloane (Short saluted each of them individually during breaks in the taping), saw Short open the stand-up comedy special with a taped sketch featuring Short in a scene as a pantsless Ed Grimley, who upon getting the TBS gig, breaks into song, knocks out Kevin Nealon in a cameo and gets a radical face tattoo. Once he took the stage, Short meant to knock himself down a peg or two, suggesting he was the cable network's second choice after disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- but Short tripped over Blago's name and decided to switch the target to Robert Blake. That was quickly followed by this aside directed toward the network and its most popular comedy programming : "Meanwhile, TBS viewers are saying, who knew Tyler Perry was so light-skinned!"
That would seem rather tame, however, compared to these quips from Short that drew gasps from the audience:
To his accompanying pianist, Jeff Babko (the keyboardist in Jimmy Kimmel's late-night TV band), Short said that his new daughter was named Tangerine because they wanted to pick a fruity name, "Tangerine if a girl, Adam Lambert if it was a boy." (Pictured at left: Martin Short with Jeff Babko performing live Thursday night at The Vic Theatre in Chicago, by Edward Pio Roda)
On the difference between hockey and Scientology: "Unlike Scientology, hockey has let Katie Holmes escape."
On tensions in the world: "Look at Iran...They had fraudulent voting in a fixed election. Good thing that would never happen here in Chicago!"