"Once those things go out, whatever free time I have off it is not going to be spent sitting around watching myself. There's golf to be done. I'd rather watch House Hunters International or Tiny House Hunting or Lakeside Home Hunting. All my TV, if you saw my recordings, there's Nazi Fugitive Hunting. I hunt nazis and I hunt homes. All I do is hunt."
– Kathleen Madigan
"I have just an instinctive sense of comedy. I mean, I can talk about the theory and all that stuff. I can talk about comedy. I've done a speech about comedy so I know that I've got thoughts about it. But I don't have it as a science."
– Lewis Black
Lewis Black: Hi there.
Kathleen Madigan: Hi.
Guy MacPherson: How are you guys doing?
LB: Oh, great. It's better every day here.
GM: Yeah? Where's here?
LB: It's always a big rainbow in the sky.
GM: Oh, here in the U.S., you mean. Yeah.
GM: Are you guys together or are you on separate lines?
KM: We are together but we're on separate phones.
GM: Okay. Where are you?
KM: In Nashville.
GM: I've talked to Lewis twice: 2005 and 2009. So it's been a while. Kathleen, I've never talked to you.
KM: Well, it's nice to talk to you.
LB: I'll let her answer all the questions.
GM: No, you don't get off that easy.
KM: Thank you! That's exactly what he was trying to do. Thank you.
GM: You guys are like the Burns and Allen of modern comedy.
KM: That would be a good life if we could have it at the end and just ride around together and drink wine and golf and not even pay attention to what we're doing. That would be wonderful.
GM: But on your tour, it's not like Burns and Allen where you're on stage together.
LB: Although at the end we'll be on stage together.
GM: Taking questions or just bowing?
LB: Yeah, questions. And I do this Rant is Due that occurs at the end of every one of my acts and we have cameras and we're wired to go throughout the world so Kathleen will be reading some of the rants and we'll be answering questions and stuff. If, you know, she doesn't get into the sauce early.
KM: Yeah, that's the problem. If I go first, I'm in my mind like a Pavlov's dog – now it's drinky time. I'm done with my work! Hello!
GM: Do you always go first, Kathleen?
KM: I don't know. It depends on where we are and what we're doing. Like, we did a big autism benefit in Missouri, but I'm from there so he went first and I went second. But Canada, didn't we decide I'm going to go first, then you, Lew, and then we both go? Is that the plan?
LB: No, I'm going first and then you're going.
KM: Oh. Oh, okay, that one.
LB: Yeah, I go first... Wait a sec... Yeah, that's the way. And then I come back and do the...
KM: We don't know.
LB: Then I come back and do the Rant is Due. Then I bring her out.
GM: You'll figure it out.
LB: I'm pretty sure I'm opening. I know for a fact, one of us will have to open. (laughs)
KM: Well, they keep asking us these questions like, 'How's the show going to go?' I'm like, I don't know! I don't give a fuck. It's not The Lion King. We don't need to have seven pages of organization. We'll get there and then, I don't know, one of us will put the wine down and walk out there. That'll work.
GM: Right. You don't need to hit your mark and it's not choreographed.
GM: Kathleen, you've only played Vancouver once and that was opening for Lewis, if I'm not mistaken. Am I?
KM: No, I think you're right. Yes. I've been to a bunch of other cities in Canada by myself, but yeah. I've done Toronto, London, Ontario, Montreal we've done a million times. Oh, I did the casino, too, in Edmonton.
GM: Maybe after this appearance here, there'll be a clamouring for you to return on your own.
LB: Oh, there will be. There will be. And I'll be on that tour doing nothing.
GM: How long have you guys known each other?
KM: Since I was 23. So almost 30 years. Is that right? I can't do math.
KM: Yeah, 27 years.
GM: And you've worked together a bunch. Are you a romantic couple?
KM: (breathlessly) Well...
LB: That's why it works!
KM: We tried that and then peacefully agreed we're better friends.
LB: We're really good at friends. She's like the sister I never wanted. And it's a lot easier because as friends you just go, 'Hey, you wanna do this?' and if you go, 'No,' it's not like, 'What do you mean no?!'
KM: 'What do you mean you won't come over Thanksgiving?!'
LB: So Kathleen doesn't have any compunction about... She goes, 'I really want to tour Canada.' I'm like, 'Great, then tour Canada.' 'No, but I want to do it on your bus.' Then I kinda realize she's just a parasite, really.
KM: (laughs) Yeah, but it's also, you know, if he gets super tired as time goes on, then I can pick up the slack so really I'm an investment, Lewis. I'm not a parasite, I'm an investment.
LB: Oh, yeah, I know that.
KM: And you don't have any sisters and as everyone knows, the women are around when you need a little more help. A little more reliable, and I can say that judging by my brothers' responses when my parents really need things. Whooo, are they busy! But my sisters – 'Oh, sure. I'll drive down and take you to the Hoopty-Haw and the Lah-Di-Dah.'
GM: You mention your tour bus. I heard it's pretty amazing. I look at your schedule and it's pretty brutal. You're one night after another and Canada's a fairly big country. That's a lot of mileage.
LB: It was just the only way we could do it so we did it that way. And it'll be fun.
KM: I was hoping for a few more days off in between stuff to go do silly stuff but the problem is we would end up having to stay forever because you don't want to book stuff on a Monday night; you want to do Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, boom. Then you'd have to extend it to the next weekend. It's a complicated puzzle. And I think in Canada there's people that are clearly more valued than us because I don't know how many times Gordon Lightfoot can knock us out of a gig but that dude... I don't even know that it's him. But you have to say, 'Well, we want to do the shows,' and they say, 'Well, we have so-and-so on that Friday so then you'd have to do Saturday,' and then you're trying to connect it with other stuff. It's not easy.
LB: Actually, the harder part is when we start, when we go Calgary, fly to Vancouver, fly from Vancouver to Edmonton, and then we get the bus in Edmonton. That's tougher, is the flights.
KM: Yeah, the bus is easy. I could go forever on the bus.
LB: Yeah, the bus is easy. If you don't get enough sleep, you get on the bus and you go back to sleep.
KM: It's wonderful. The bus is wonderful. I could live my life on a bus like that. And the TV, if it's working, you can turn on some sports or a little news. And there's a refrigerator with ham in it. I don't know what more anyone could ask for on earth.
LB: It has wi-fi. And also there's something about seeing where you're travelling as opposed to bam-bam and in between you're 2.5 hours breathing in the filth of the passengers around you.
GM: You guys have known each other so long, do you ever influence each other's comedy or begin to sound alike? I was talking to a comedian last week who went on the road with Ian Bagg – I don't know if you know Ian...
LB: Ian, I know Ian. I've known Ian for a hundred years.
KM: Me, too, and he's really funny.
GM: This guy went on tour with him back when they started here in Vancouver and then, he said, he sounded like Ian for three months after that.
LB: Well, you have an effect on each other. We certainly affect each other. We ask each other stuff, like, you know, 'I got this idea' and then we talk about the idea or the joke. And then when we start to work together, we'll watch each other and it'll have an effect.
KM: We're so different and we're beyond... I think younger, newer comics sometimes can be affected by the person they're with but I think once you've been doing it this long, you're kind of already in your running shoes. I see that more like when Mitch Hedberg became famous, I would go in clubs and every guy that was in his early thirties was doing a version of Mitch Hedberg because it's sort of like an osmosis thing. Not necessarily stealing or any of that but he wore off on them. But I don't think at this point we're... And if there could be things that would wear off, it would be our golf games.
GM: Is that trash talking?
KM: No, it's pretty even. He has good days and I have good days. It balances out. We played yesterday. He used the demo clubs because he didn't have his correct clubs and then he bought that. And then we played another course and he bought more there. And I go, 'You're going to be that guy in the commercial where your whole set is demo used clubs from different golf courses.'
LB: Kathleen is the best golfer I know of all of my friends. She calls it old man golf but it's the way you should play golf. If she cared about putting, she'd be great. But she doesn't care.
KM: Yeah, I don't care. I think it's stupid. I think once you get on the green, I'm done. In my mind, I'm done now. I got here; I'm done.
LB: Yeah, she has no sense of the putt. I mean, she putts okay but she really has no interest in it. If she did, she'd be lights out. But she hits it well and it goes right down the centre. She hits a straight ball.
GM: Is she better than Ron White or Dr. Phil?
KM: Oh, that's funny because I golf with them. I still say I'm more consistent; I wouldn't say necessarily better than Ron, but I'm consistent and given time, yes, I would bet I would beat him because eventually he will snap and that ball will go 20,000 miles into the woods and then it'll become an unravelling. I'll still be in the middle trying to get to the green in regulation, waiting. And then I'll watch him and Lewis and Dr. Phil and all these people emerge from the forest screaming and I'm still standing there.
LB: She may not be a better golfer than Dr. Phil and Ron White but she's a better person. (laughs)
GM: That goes without saying. Kathleen, are you getting more political in your act now that you have a clown for president?
KM: If you go back to all my specials and stuff, whenever there was an election, I liked to talk about it because everybody's kind of focussed on it; everybody has a little bit of knowledge. And then I would just drop it. I'm not consistent. Lew's consistently talking about what's going on in the government and politics and all that. But it's about the exact same amount. I had a solid 15 minutes on this past election in the past year and now I'm even kind of dropping... Like, I had Hillary stuff, and Bernie stuff, but they've kind of gone to the back burner for a while so those will drop out. There's a few Trump ones I want to hang onto. As we keep saying, if you write a Trump joke, it can't just be a normal joke because it's going to be on Saturday Night Live in two seconds. Everybody's in on it. Everyone's doing it. It's over-saturated. I'll say what I want to say but I'm not going deep into it. It's also a minefield of things that could be considered hacky even though they're not because everybody's paying attention because you can't not pay attention to him.
GM: Lewis, does that mean you're getting less political because of that?
LB: I'm just getting tired. I took three months off. Last year was a long year to begin with. There's a level of disgust that I have that I have to get over each time every three or four days. And then something will strike me. But I'm more interested in what we're not getting done than what we're doing. Because everyone has said it and they've said it because it's true – we're watching a reality show. 'What if you elected the most narcissistic businessman who you didn't really realize had a deeper pathology than you ever thought possible and you made him president? What would that be like?!' And that's what we're watching.
GM: Does it make you question very bad thing about every other politician you've talked about?
LB: No. Not at all.
GM: Because in comparison, they're great.
LB: I said when George Bush's son ran initially, I said, 'Really? You picked him?' His father, who had not served a second term, I said, 'Why don't you run him? Because in comparison to his son, he now' – who I wasn't a fan of – 'looks like Churchill.' You know? I mean, it's unbelievable. Look, one thing is for sure in terms of the government, I've said this too many times, but when I was a kid, the people running the government, especially those people in Congress, were drunks. They had alcohol problems and they got way more done. And then in the past twenty years of my life, Congressmen stopped drinking and go to the gym. And endorphins don't help. You gotta be at a bar. That's how Tip O'Neal and Ronald Reagan got stuff done. They'd sit there and get shit-faced together, then go, 'You're the best.' 'No, you're the best. I really love your idea; I've never liked my idea.' 'I like your idea so much.' I mean, that's it. That's the way you get stuff done. You don't come out of a gym going, 'Look at how pumped I am.' Son of a bitch!
GM: Kathleen, you said you tweak your act for non-Americans but does that include Canada or are we close enough that you don't need to?
KM: You guys are close enough. I'm talking like when Lew and I went to Hong Kong or some of the back towns in Ireland, I'll tweak it just a little. Not Canada. I'll do the same stuff I would do here without even thinking twice. Even in London at the Comedy Store or something, you just have to think about certain words and local stuff. Not Canada, no.
LB: I'll tell you how weird it is, I was touring Europe three summers ago and I went to Stockholm, Copenhagen, somewhere in Belgium, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and what I found was I would try to do a translation of what I thought would work for them. And I found after about three performances that the more I did my act the way I did it in America, the better the response. Which I wouldn't have thought. The thing about performance is you just learn from it. You learn pretty quickly. I kind of started going, 'I don't really need to do that. I'll do this. I'll just do it the way I did it.'
KM: We would always ask the other comics, too. A long time ago we did this Irish festival for ten years in a row called Cat Laughs in Kilkenny and I had this chunk about Jeffrey Dahmer that went into all kinds of stuff. I figured, well, I guess I can't do that. And I asked some of the Irish comics, 'Would they know?' just as an outside chance, and they're like, 'Oh yeah.' And I was like, 'Wow, the little boy from Wisconsin made it globally! That's just crazy!' But, like, I know Luka Magnotta in Canada. If you're paying attention to that stuff... Serial killers, I'm kind of obsessed with that. But yeah, Dahmer made it to Ireland.
GM: You guys are competitive on the golf course, who had the better Seinfeld episode?
LB: You mean Comedians in Cars [Getting Coffee]?
KM: I don't know, I haven't watched his or mine.
KM: Have you, Lew?
LB: I watched both. I thought yours was better. But that's because you're a better person than I am.
KM: Well, I'm a better Catholic. Before I went to meet with Jerry, I watched George Wallace's because Lew hadn't done his yet and of the people I saw on there, George is my favourite and I know that he knows Jerry so I knew it would be pretty good and it was good. I don't know, once those things go out, whatever free time I have off it is not going to be spent sitting around watching myself. There's golf to be done. I'd rather watch House Hunters International or Tiny House Hunting or Lakeside Home Hunting. All my TV, if you saw my recordings, there's Nazi Fugitive Hunting. I hunt nazis and I hunt homes. All I do is hunt. So I don't know, I forgot Lew even did one. I guess I should watch yours. I feel like a failure. I didn't watch my own.
LB: I laughed too much.
GM: A good friend and sister would watch.
KM: (laughs) No, that's just it: none of my siblings will watch any of it. They literally call from their real jobs and go, 'Dude, are you on some thing where you and Seinfeld go get coffee in a car?' 'Yeah, I am.' 'Oh, well, people at work like the part where you talk about dad. Just thought I'd let you know. Bye.' They're not watching, either.
GM: Well, I watched them both and they were great. Lewis, you said you laughed too much? But that was the edit, though, right?
LB: Yeah. Yeah, it was. I just thought like I laughed way too much. I appeared to be minorly hysterical.
KM: (laughs) Now I really want to watch! (laughs)
LB: And I was so shocked at the beginning. I don't know Jerry that well. I've been around him a few times and I like him, he's nice. But he came up in this huge El Dorado Cadillac. It was a nice car and all of that. I wondered what the car would be and he brought that one because he said he thought of me as someone who'd be retiring in Florida and have a car like this. And what I should have responded immediately is, 'Are you fucking nuts?!' And instead I kind of just was so stunned it took me a while to recover. It's almost like taking a punch. So I was off my game a little, I thought.
GM: He threw you off right off the top.
LB: Right off the bat! But the other thing that got me – I don't drive anymore. He's driving. There's a car behind us that has got cameras; there's a car in front of us that has got cameras. And we're driving through New York City traffic to go to this restaurant. This is like a magic trick. How the fuck are you not, like, wrecking cars? And then people would drive real close to us so I was more upset: 'Get the fuck away! And stop honking. And shut up.' I kind of got lost in that episode.
GM: It's like a presidential motorcade.
LB: Yeah, it is. It is!
KM: In LA, I looked out the window of Chuck [Martin]'s house and Jerry was supposed to be showing up and I saw a little car and then a cop and I said, 'Holy shit! Seinfeld's getting a ticket! Jerry's getting busted!' And Chuck goes, 'No, that's the escort, Kathleen.' I go, 'Oh! I thought he was speeding!' I'm like, 'Wow, I didn't think we were this fancy.'
GM: What kind of car did you get, Kathleen? I forget.
KM: Here's what I know: It was some German... like a BMW, I think. I don't care about cars. I have a 2005 Mercury Mariner. It's paid for; I love it. And I told Jerry that. I said, 'You may not want me on your show because I don't really care about cars.' I'm being honest. But my biggest complaint about cars these days is the colours. It's the same: white, silver, black, burgundy for old people. I liked back in the day, in the fifties and even before that, when they had two tones and crazy colours. All I know is that car that he pulled up in, the outside was this beautiful blue and the inside was like baseball glove-brown. And you would just never see that anymore. So I was impressed. That's the only part Jerry doesn't care about, but I really was like, okay. Really, the car was ridiculous. But it was from, I don't know, the early seventies? They called it like the family BMW or something, where you would take a little trip, the four of you. I'm like, 'Well, I assume your family only has two children.' Our family would have gone nowhere in this with nine people. It would have been a horrible trip.
GM: You know cars like I do: the blue one. That red one over there.
GM: Did you each go out for three hours or something like that?
KM: We were out about four hours, I would say. It was a long time.
LB: They needed to get more material from you.
KM: (blows raspberry) I just can't drink coffee that long.
LB: It's a long time. It was a lot of fun. And the other thing, I have just an instinctive sense of comedy. I mean, I can talk about the theory and all that stuff. I can talk about comedy. I've done a speech about comedy so I know that I've got thoughts about it. But I don't have it as a science, the idea of the joke to him. I stumble on jokes. He seems to kind of have a methodology. This is not an insult in any fashion, he was talking about it like a math professor talking about seriously hard equations.
KM: Yeah, he breaks it down like that.
LB: Yeah, and I don't have that.
KM: Lewis hasn't even had that in this conversation.
GM: Ouch! Okay guys, I won't ask you about your show because you still don't know what you're going to do.
LB: Tell them it's going to be fun, that's for sure. That's the one thing I can promise, we're going to have a lot of fun so they're going to have a lot of fun. Let me just tell you this, if they don't have fun, it's their fucking fault. (laughs)
KM: If they don't, we had a good time. If they didn't have fun, we'll find another country. We'll move on.
GM: And there will always be wine even if it all goes south.
LB: Exactly. If it all goes south, we'll just take the sea plane and hide out in Victoria until everything blows over. Nobody's going to look there, I can assure you.
GM: Alright, guys. Thanks a lot.
KM: Okay, thank you.
LB: Thank you. I enjoyed it.