Comedian Kathleen Madigan has a home in Los Angeles, but her heart lies on her farm in Missouri.
“Here’s the thing. I call it a ‘farm,’ because if I call it ‘property,’ I sound like a hillbilly. But it really is ‘property,’ ” she says by phone from her home in L.A. That’s where she lives when she has reasons to be in California.
Otherwise, the St. Louis native, 48, retreats to her 200 or so wooded acres near the Lake of the Ozarks. It’s a popular gathering spot for her extended family, which includes six siblings and their kids. It sports a creek, plenty of room to play football, a hunting cabin her dad built and a barn “filled with four-wheelers for the kids.”
“It’s not a working farm — I just put that in type so I don’t sound beyond redneck,” she says.
She doesn’t really dispel that label when she describes the other freedoms her farm allows: “We shoot guns. I’m kind of a secret pyro. We can just burn leaves and set things on fire,” she says. “My brother-in-law’s always got a giant cooler full of beer. We drink beer, then get out the dangerous equipment. It’s a lot of fun when you’re not professional.”
But she does have another secret farm desire.
“What I really want to do is get a bunch of goats, because I really love goats. They’re only like $35. My mom goes, ‘Well Kathleen, what if they all walk away?’ I go, ‘So? They’re just $35 — we’ll buy another one, Mom. They’re free-range goats. Let ‘em go wherever they want. There’s 200 acres — how far does a goat go in a day, Mom?’
“If I was going to have a farm, it would be more like a petting zoo, not a working farm. The amount of work that goes into a working farm is something I would never sign up for,” she says. “With a petting zoo, there’s some goats, and they wander by and eat a beer can, and they look weird and they know their names.
“Goats are underrated. I could give a whole lecture on goats and why you should have a goat for a pet if you own property.”
They’ll have to graze on something else for a while. Grass doesn’t have time to grow under her feet right now. She’s been on the road for 25 years, playing about 300 shows a year, which translates to 7,500 performances.
The award-winning comedian will land at the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City on Friday night (11/22), to point out the absurdities in life.
- Kathleen Madigan
- 8 p.m. Friday (11/22)
- Englert Theatre, Iowa City
- Tickets: $30 advance, $32 day of show
- Ticket information: Englert Box Office, (319) 688-2653 or Englert.org
- Artist’s website: Kathleenmadigan.com
Fans from her “Gone Madigan” special on Showtime, as well as her many late-night television gigs, will hear what they expect: cruise ships jokes, Catholic jokes and family jokes.
“The rest of it is kind of all up for grabs,” she says, drawing from her personal experiences and silly strings.
“I’m like a joke jukebox,” she says. “There’s no message. This is comedy. This is a mental vacation for an hour and half — that’s all I can promise you. For an hour and a half, you will not think of anything but something funny and silly. That’s it.”
That straight shooting has launched her from open mic nights in the early days to headlining The Mirage in Las Vegas. Jay Leno calls her “one of America’s funniest female comics.” Lewis Black proclaims her “the funniest woman in American.” Ron White leaves gender behind, calling her “easily one of the best comics alive.”
A former journalist, Madigan has had specials on HBO, Showtime and Comedy Central, cut four CDs and two DVDs, written for Gary Shandling’s Emmy monologues and won American Comedy and Phyllis Diller awards for Best Female Comedian.
Her favorite ovations, however, have come from the troops overseas.
“The shows in Iraq and Afghanistan were the best,” she says. “Nobody in my family is in the military, I have no association with it at all — I got nothing. But those soldiers are so happy that somebody remembered they’re there, and that you flew to Kabul to do a show. They’re not happy in a sappy way, which would make me as an Irish person completely uncomfortable. They’re just fired up.
“I’ve never experienced anything like war zones. … The first time I went was 2011. Afghanistan was — it still is — extremely dangerous and bizarre. Iraq was a little more under control. Just to see it all was mind-boggling.”