The state of Missouri is No. 1 in crystal meth lab accidents. According to comedian and Missouri native Kathleen Madigan (who dares you to Google the stat), it's basically an affront to the Missouri school system. They just can't teach science. Rednecks plus chemistry equals a disaster. She would give everything she owns to hear the arguments directly preceding each explosion. And based on the feedback from the audience at her show last Friday, a crowd would pay to hear her recount them.
Madigan took the stage at the Majestic to a full house and commandeered the room with a mix of self deprecation, befuddled observations and her signature giggling. She started out by taking the South and her own Midwestern state to the mat, offering a logical explanation for the South's loss in the Civil War: They couldn't communicate fast enough. "War is a snappy event," she quipped to shrieks of laughter.
Madigan took on the Norfolk International Airport in Virginia next, which has a mermaid theme for seemingly no reason, and Tucson, Arizona, where her brother lives. The desert -- she doesn't get it. Maybe she will someday. "When it's done. When there are trees." Beyond the lack of scenery, the fact that there are jaguars on the golf courses is enough to send her packing. Yep, actual jaguars (the furry kind, not the cars) roam around Tucson, apparently having traveled up from South America. Which launched Madigan into the topic of global warming.
I'll admit, I tensed up, unsure of where the left-leaning comedian was going and if the audience would follow. We are in Texas, after all. "Don't believe in global warming?" she asked. "Jaguars have come to Tucson to cool off!" The audience roared. A few years ago, she added, Missouri was invaded by armadillos. "I realize that's normal for you guys here. But in the Midwest, armadillos are only in cartoons," she said. "We just have to get to Minnesota," she said in her best armadillo voice. More laughter. Since Madigan tackled the issue and presented her point of view in silly, offbeat way, the audience stayed with her.
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Later in the show, when she riffed on President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, the latter whom she called a "smiling, drunken Irishman out of the bar," Madigan kept the laughs coming by keeping things neutral and light, focusing on the president and vice president as people instead of policy makers. "Obama thinks we're all way more involved than we are," she said. She mentioned the president's calls for citizens to write to their Congress members and take stands on issues. "We're busy," she said. "Shark Week is on, Nancy Grace has us looking for missing kids." It worked.
And so did the rest of her set. Performing a mix of old and new material, Madigan kept the crowd laughing, clapping and whooping throughout. She bemoaned the comedy cruise her good friend Lewis Black had to force her into working, because the entire concept of a cruise freaks her out. "Imagine standing in the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and it just sails away, leaving all forms of help behind."
She bemoaned giving up smoking, which she was pretty much forced into after having a couple of teeth pulled. The dentist warned her she couldn't smoke after the procedure because she could develop dry sockets. And get blood clots. And they would explode in her face. Within 48 hours.
And she bemoaned her parents who, now in their 70s, have picked up some odd habits. Her mom insists on wrapping every one of her credit cards in tin foil. You know, 'cause of the ray-gun people who steal credit card information. Madigan asked a cop friend about these ray-gun people, and he gently warned her that crazy people are really into tin foil. "Most old people are overly medicated and hammered," Madigan said. "That's how they roll. It's heavenly."