Fresh ginger: A chat with comedian Kathleen Madigan 

The stand-up celeb headlines the Palladium this Friday.

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You've been on television and radio and you do your live performances. How are those similar and different? Do you prefer performing live?

Live is always a lot more fun. There's the energy. The problem with TV is people are so distracted by the fact that they're at the Letterman Show or the Tonight Show with Jay Leno that they're not fully paying attention like they would be at a theater where there's nothing else going on. In a TV studio, there're lights and people running around and it's very bright and it just doesn't feel comfortable. It's kind of uptight. That's why when I did Gone Madigan, I said I wanted it as dark as possible, I wanted it to feel like a club or a theater, not like a TV broadcast.

In a past interview, you described your comedic style as “Midwest logic with sarcasm mixed with resignation.” Is this still true, since you've now moved to L.A.?

I've been out here for 20 years, but I'm never even here. I'm in the Midwest and the South and the East Coast more than I'm even here, but no, it's remained exactly the same. So have the topics. So it never changed. [Laughs.] I don't know if that's good or bad.

Well, I'm originally from PA and I now live in Tampa, so when you said Midwest logic I wasn't really sure what that meant. Could you explain it?

I really can't explain it. It's weird. I can just tell when people are from the Midwest. They just get to the point quicker. Give me the bottom line. It's simple — not as in stupid, but simple as in, can you just take all the fluff out of it and tell me exactly what you mean.

You have a background in journalism. That's how you started out, what you studied in school. Do you have any desire or intention to write a book yourself?

No. No, I would never want to write a book. I've seen my friend Lewis Black do it, and it's a grueling process and no, no, no, no. [Laughs.] No.

This interview was scheduled for 1. Is this early for you? Are you on the road now?

Well, it's actually 7 a.m. here.

Oh, I didn't know if you were going to be in L.A.

Yeah. It's early, but it's okay. I got up.

I appreciate you talking then. I know 7 a.m. is really early, for me anyway. What's a typical day on tour like?

It's mostly travel. It's not very exciting. Get up, go to the airport, get on a plane, check into the hotel, go over my notes, go do sound check around 6:30, do the show at 8 and then done at 10. Repeat it the next day. When you're working the clubs, you're in a city for longer, for maybe a few days, so I kind of miss that, but for the most part, I say, we don't get paid to tell jokes, we get paid to travel, because that's what we spend most of our lives doing.

I read that you don't listen to a lot of comedy albums but you do listen to music. You've mentioned Florence and the Machine a couple of times. Who else do you listen to, or is that even a part of your day to day?

I like Mumford and Sons. Lewis and I did the comedy portion of Bonnaroo — not this past summer, but the summer before that, and it's not that I even particularly latch onto people. I just like hearing new people. The radio plays the same 25 people over and over whether we like them or not. Even on the cable channel called Adult Alternative, they play weird people—I shouldn't say they're weird, they're just people you wouldn't hear. There's a Canadian woman, Serena Ryder. Well, I never would have known who that was except for this this music channel on my TV. Because it's not like real radio where there's all this money involved and craziness and you just hear the same 25 songs or people. It's so hard to find different music, so I prefer doing that. I’ve sat around and listened to comedy albums if they're my friends, but I wouldn't go get an old Bill Cosby album. That's what I do for a living; I don't need to do it when I'm off.

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