While other comedians find steady work acting or writing for the screen, veteran stand-up Kathleen Madigan works the road. Perpetually on tour for the past 25 years, Madigan does up to 300 shows a year: headlining gigs at theaters and clubs, benefits for the troops and the part of her life that most feels like work, corporate retreats and conferences.
“Corporate, they’re more my job,” Madigan says. “If every [comedian] would tell you the truth, we would say we’re not really that excited about them but we’re total whores for the money. It’s a forced thing [for the audience]. Some of these people don’t even know that there’s going to be a comedian. But I’m glad some companies go, ‘Let’s try comedy.’ ”
Madigan, 49, was raised in Missouri and is a natural storyteller, nimbly shifting between topics — universal subjects like family, travel and current events — with plainspoken ease.
“Perhaps it’s a reflection of my act, but I seem to be a middle-management salesperson gold mine,” she says of the corporate gigs. “Once we get into the higher echelon, I lose them. When I hear it’s the managing partners, ugh.”
Madigan prefers performing for audiences that actually bought tickets to see her — like the one she’ll find at Friday’s Warner Theatre show. And she particularly appreciates the audiences in D.C.
“Lewis Black, who is one of my close friends, he’s from around there, and he goes, ‘I always feel like they’re not going to want to hear about politics,’ ” Madigan says. “But [D.C. crowds] seem to laugh as hard as anyone else. They’re just smart, fun and very even. They’re not extreme. In Savannah, Ga., you can have an extremely good show or the crowd may beat each other up. D.C. is usually very lovely.”
Madigan, whose 2013 stand-up special “Madigan Again” is streaming on Netflix, is bringing a batch of new jokes to Washington. In October, she’ll film that material for a special she’s jokingly dubbed “More Madigan Again.”
“I’ve never sat down and thought, I’m going to write a joke about this [particular topic],” she says. “It’s just the things I’m interested in. Like, I’m never going to do celebrity jokes. Honestly, if a Kardashian person brought me room service right now I wouldn’t know who that was.”
Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW; Fri., 8 p.m., $30-$45.
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