Comedian Kathleen Madigan on Gingrich Tweets, Performing for the Troops and $35 Goats

When you interview comedian Kathleen Madigan, whose upcoming show at the Majestic happens Friday, there's no cutting corners. Before making it big, she worked in print journalism for Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. A passion for journalism was lacking, but she could "write a sentence," so it was something to do. One take away from her experience was to come prepared. If she had to interview someone about something which she knew "literally nothing" about, she wouldn't just pick up the phone willy nilly. So now that she's on the other side of the interview, she expects some research to happen before talking to her. I found quite a bit, but nothing about the material in her upcoming show. So I asked for the goods.

"There's old stuff, there's new stuff," she says. "It's 50/50. Nobody can be that mad." Fair enough. But there are always other outlets for people's anger. Like Madigan's Twitter feed, which serves as a kind of faster, more streamlined blog for the comedian.

When she tweeted a picture of her and Newt Gingrich posing as Gap models backstage at Leno and said Gingrich was a "good sport" and a "fun guy," the reaction from her radically left fans was not appreciative. Not only did she receive hate mail, but some people took to Twitter to complain.

"Homophobe guilty of multiple infidelities while his wives were gravely ill. Good guy," said one tweeter.

"Newt caused the last gov't shutdown in '95 and now ya'll are friends! Yikes!" said another.

Madigan doesn't get it. Sure, she's a liberal, but the fact that she got someone like Newt Gingrich to ham it up as a Gap model is worthy of a pic. As she said on Twitter, she's aware of his career. She was simply commenting on the moment. One of her best comedian buddies is Larry the Cable Guy, an out and proud far-right country boy. But that doesn't stop the two from being pals and exchanging Christmas gifts. But not all of her fans are so easily provoked. Hell, some are just happy she's performing.

When she travels with the USO to entertain our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, those men and women are some of most appreciative audiences she could ask for. "They're so happy that somebody showed up," she says. "Somebody should tape a special there. You'll never get a more grateful audience." She even broke out her war material, and they laughed. They know what she's talking about, they just can't say it out loud. So Madigan does it for them. And they remember her. She was in Tucson when a man approached her saying he'd seen her when he was stationed in Kabul two years before. Madigan's first thoughts were: Wow, he made it back. "They remember everything."

When she's not entertaining the troops, she's on stage somewhere here in the states, playing to growing audiences. She just released an hour-long special, Madigan Again, on Netflix, an outlet she labels as a "godsend." HBO could only tell Madigan the original air date of her special. But reruns? It was all a mystery. So she was left with only one air date to promote. With Netflix, she can keep promoting the special for several months, knowing her show is only a click away. Plus, there are no advertisers, so she can say whatever she wants, which is when she's at her best.

As much as she likes the technological advantages of things like Twitter and Netflix, she still unwinds far away from computers and smart phones. Golf is one her favorite past times. Hell, more people might like golf if they played with Ron White and Lewis Black. As a young, poor comedian, lots of comedy clubs had hook ups with golf courses. Comedians need something to do in the daylight hours, after all. So Madigan kept her clubs in the back of her car. "We have all day off. You have to think of something to do, or you'll go crazy."

For big breaks from the dizzy world of stand up, Madigan heads to her farm in the Ozarks in Missouri. Well, it's not really a farm. "I use the word farm 'cause I don't wanna be hillbilly and say property, but it is." Her brother-in-law always has a cooler of beer, and she and her family relax in a typical Midwest fashion -- riding four-wheelers, shooting guns at snakes (only the bad ones, like Copperheads) and playing football. But her wooded property isn't quite complete. Madigan wants goats. "You can get 'em for $35," she says. "I really like their eyes. I'm a big fan of goats." Her mom is concerned they might run off, but Madigan would only embrace their care-free nature. "Let 'em go if they don't wanna be there. Free-range goats!"

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Jane R. LeBlanc
Contact: Jane R. LeBlanc