THE SPOKESMAN REVIEW: Kathleen Madigan brings her comedic observations to the Bing

By Azaria Podplesky

Kathleen Madigan has been a touring comedian for 27 years, but packing for the road can still be difficult.

Toothbrushes, contact lens solution, she’s got that down. But other essentials, like pants, sometimes don’t make it into her suitcase.

“It was in March or April and I opened all my clothes and I’m like ‘Really? I didn’t bring any pants,’ ” Madigan said during a recent phone interview. “How long have I been doing this? Twenty-seven years and I forgot pants.”

Packing can be a nuisance, but Madigan says she thrives in the organized chaos of constant touring and wouldn’t do well with a 9-to-5 job.

“I think I would be at happy hour every day at 4:30, which eventually would lead to a problem.”

Madigan’s career began like so many jokes do: She walked into a bar.

While working as a bartender, Madigan, her only experience with comedy growing up was watching comedians on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” (“I didn’t even know that was a job,” she said. “I just thought those were funny people who showed up”), shared stories about things that had happened to her with her regulars.

She eventually started telling those same stories on stage during the bar’s open mic nights.

After a year and a half of open mics and opening slots, Madigan began touring the country. She’s been on the road pretty much nonstop since.

“(People in the media) frame it as a tour because when you’re doing theaters, it’s like a new season, but it’s not like we’re the Red Hot Chili Peppers and we take two years off,” Madigan said. “These musician people, I’m like, ‘Does it count as a tour if you only have 20 cities?’ ”

Madigan’s jokes have always been based on experiences from her admittedly normal day-to-day life.

A bit from her last standup special, “Madigan Again,” for example, focuses on people who complained when the price of stamps increased.

“When I’m off, it’s not like I’m flying around the world to exotic places,” she said. “I’m usually in Missouri with my family or golfing with my comic buddies, normal stuff … I don’t really lead a Hollywood life, so the jokes are from normal life.”

Making her sets even more conversational is the fact that Madigan doesn’t write jokes, per se; she merely gets onstage and starts talking.

“(Normal life is) where the material will come from, but it won’t come till I get onstage,” she said.

After 27 years in the business and a fourth hourlong standup special on the way, Madigan is “very, very, very” content with all that she’s accomplished, though there is one thing left on her comic bucket list: driving across and performing in Canada with fellow comedian Lewis Black, whom Madigan calls her BFF.

“That’s one thing I would be upset if I retired and didn’t do,” she said.

She hopes to complete the trip next fall. By then, she should have her packing list down.

“Maybe in year 28, it will all come together,” she said. “Maybe for the 30th anniversary, I’ll finally learn how to pack.”