There are generally two types of comedians. Those who would like to use their stand-up career as a springboard to a television series or film work. And those who are inveterate comics, content making people laugh for a living.
File Kathleen Madigan into the latter camp. Madigan, 53, has had plenty of television offers over the years. The gigs she has turned down range from being an ESPN 2 anchor to acting and writing for sitcoms.
“Ever since the ’80s when they started giving out sitcoms to standups like Robin Williams, there have been comics that are really actor people looking to get acting gigs, but trying to do stand-up,” Madigan said while calling from her suburban St. Louis home. “I never wanted a sitcom. Asking me to become a sitcom actor would be like asking me to become a veterinarian. I have no concept how to treat a dog or act. How arrogant would I be if I could pretend that I can do what (actress) Patricia Heaton does.”
Some of her peers would have jumped at the chance to have joined ESPN just due to the national face time.
“I can see that because you would have great exposure as an ESPN reporter,” Madigan said. “The job I turned down went to Suzy Kolber, who has had a heck of a career with ESPN. I love sports. I’m thrilled my St. Louis Blues finally won a Stanley Cup. But there were a few big reasons I passed on ESPN. I don’t like every sport. I know nothing about NASCAR, so I wouldn’t want to cover it. ESPN isn’t going to pay much for new talent because they can get away with it. Everyone would sacrifice to work there.
“Hey, I studied journalism but it was evident early on that I could make more money as a bartender than as a journalist. But I didn’t want to do it either. I always wanted to be a stand-up comic.”
Madigan, who will perform Friday (9/6) at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City, has earned a fine living cracking wise professionally for more than a quarter century.
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“It’s the greatest job in the world,” she said. “I get to talk about what I want to talk about and people pay to hear it.”
Politics is one subject Madigan is certain to wax about when she performs at the Englert.
“Is it me or is it crazy that the top candidates for president are close to 80 years old,” she said. “My parents are 78 and they can’t be president of the United States. They actually have it together but they forget things. They have a new dog. They paid for training classes and forget to take the dog. Their depth perception is off. When they drive they don’t take left hand turns anymore.
“I like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, but they are too old to be president, and so is Donald Trump. Why isn’t there an age in which you can’t be president anymore? Aren’t there some younger people, and I mean younger as in their 50s, who can run this country?”
Madigan and her close friend, comic Lewis Black, did a cruise together a few years ago.
“I’ll know I’ll never do a cruise again,” Madigan said. “I just don’t like them. I would rather just fly to the destination. The cruises remind me of when I did comedy in Iowa back when they had the first gambling boats. Those gambling boats were fun until you quickly lost your money. It was funny how quickly it turned from a good night out to a $500 ride in the dark. Maybe I’m not a big boat person. I would rather stay on land and just do comedy.”
WHAT: Comedian Kathleen Madigan
WHERE: Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., Iowa City
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday (9/6)
TICKETS: $37.50 to $57.50, Englert Ticket Office, (319) 688-2653 or Englert.org
ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Kathleenmadigan.com