Make 'Em Laugh: Kathleen Madigan's "Madigan Again"


Madigan Again opens up with Kathleen Madigan palling around with Lewis Black, who also introduces her set on stage; the pairing was clearly deliberate. Black is the more famous comedian, and his presence serves to acclimate those familiar with his work to the sensibilities of Madigan. The comparison is apt (they’re both dry and cynical, though perhaps that’s simply a condition of modern comedy) but not perfect (Madigan does not scream and wave her hands throughout her set). Instead, she seems to view the world around her with something closer to bemusement than contempt.

Madigan’s targets in Again are fairly broad (U.S. policy in Afghanistan, Mormonism, cruise ships), and she never goes after them with anything with like venom. If anything, she projects as someone who emerges from a Margarita fog just long enough to find what she sees far more confusing and poorly conceived than anything contained by a salted rim. On the whole, her success rate is pretty solid, registering general amusement without ever swinging for the fences. Even though she could pass as a New Yorker (Black's influence, most likely), her Midwestern sensibilities are what ultimately shine through (particularly her unvarnished love of John Denver), letting her prey go somewhat intact, if only so that she can come back for more later.

Anders Nelson • Associate Editor


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