Comedian Kathleen Madigan had to develop a sense of humor early while growing up in a family of seven children. As theSt. Louis native jokes in her popular "Gone Madigan" Showtime comedy special, that's too many for any parent to keep track of.
In one riff, she recalled her mother looking out in the yard warning the kids not to leave her property. Young Kathleen responded that those kids belonged to another family all the Madigan kids were inside the house.
Madigan, 47, will tell more jokes about her family as well as politics and current events Feb. 22 at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto.
She said her family hadso much going on they barely noticed when she started building a comedy career. "I flew under the radar," she said. "Nobody pays attention unless it's affecting them when there's that many people in the house. I don't know that people hear you in a house that big."
But she said they're proud of her now and they don't mind the ribbing. "I won't say anything that would hurt their feelings," she said.
Madigan has made many appearances on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."
She remains the only comedian in the history of NBC's "Last Comic Standing" to go unchallenged by any comedian (no other competitor would say they were funnier than her). She was a finalist on Season 2 of the show and a finalist on Season 5.
She was a writer, producer and performer on Lewis Black's "The Root of All Evil," which aired in 2008 on Comedy Central.
Madigan met Black years ago on tour in Chicago. "We hung out and drank Scotch after the shows every night," she said. "He's been my friend since then."
Though Black is known as an angry comedian, Madigan said he is more optimistic than her. "Lew's never been a hippie- looking guy but he's still got that '60s mentality like protesting," she said. "I'm a child of the '80s we didn't protest we were given Nintendo and MTV and told to remain still until the next Michael Jackson video came on and we did and it was totally worth it."
There is a cynical streak in Madigan's comedy, and she definitely is known for being frank and using occasional foul language. So how does she know where to draw the line and avoid going too far?
"I always try to bring it back to something inane," she said. "If the topic is sensitive ... I make sure I bring it back to something personal and inane. I'm not telling anybody what to do or what to think, I'm bringing it back to the absurdity."
For instance, she recalls talking about a politician who argued against legalizing marijuana because it's a gateway drug to hard drugs like heroin. "I do jokes about the absurdity of the extremity of the argument," she said. "I have plenty of pothead friends who have never done any other drug in their life," she said. "They just like pot."
WHAT: Kathleen Madigan: Gone Madigan
WHEN: 8 p.m. Feb. 22
WHERE: Rogers Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto
CALL: (209) 338-2100