One of the greatest pleasures for an audience member is catching a performer when they are on their "A-game." That was the case on Friday as Kathleen Madigan returned to the Pabst Theater to deliver a killer set that had the whole crowd howling.
Madigan, who just has a genuine familial vibe automatically in her favor, reinforced her endearment to the crowd by beginning her set raving about her love of Milwaukee and Wisconsin in general.
"It’s a great state. People don’t know about you people, but I don’t tell them because I don’t want there to be a stampede."
After teasing the German heritage throughout the state, Madigan then expressed her amazement that somehow Wisconsin hasn’t landed on the list of the top five fattest states. "Whatever you’re doing, you’re laying low. You’re chubby and nobody knows, you’ve kept it a secret."
While the evening didn’t have a central theme, a good deal of Madigan’s set was tied to her Irish Catholic heritage and how that factored in to her perception. Hailing from Missouri, Madigan turned the tables on her home state making fun of Anheuser-Busch’s sale to InBev and the rise of crystal meth in Missouri. Topics for the night included the post office, her USO tour in Afghanistan, public television pledge drives and a good deal of time on the way her parents are changing as they get older.
The most impressive element of Madigan’s set was when she talked about political figures and managed to deliver material that didn’t alienate the crowd. Her criticisms of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were not about their politics, but rather the way they present themselves.
By utilizing this approach, there wasn’t much need for her to walk a tightrope to avoid offending anyone as what she said was just keen observations about their approaches.
After telling The Pabst audience that if they’d had anything to drink to make sure to drive extra carefully, Madigan closed out the night by ripping into celebrities and rich figures who get DUIs. Citing the arrests of Al Michaels and the far more prominent Randy Travis DUI, Madigan explained that with the millions of dollars these people have, there is no excuse for them not to pay for an alternate means of travel. She hammered this home by giving examples of extravagant measures that these individuals could afford. It was hard not to think of a certain local athlete who absolutely matched the criteria of Madigan’s attack.
Kathleen Madigan has been performing for over 25 years and has really honed the tone that makes her special. She is able to tap in to that familiar feeling one might have listening to a really funny family friend. This ability to make such a strong connection with the audience is pretty rare and really leaves the audience eager for her next show, so we can all hear what our friend Kathleen has been up to.
The opening act for the evening was Michael Palascak, who was an excellent appetizer for Madigan. Like the headliner, Palascak had an element to his approach that just somehow made him likeable. The highlights of his set came when he was coming from an honest place talking about his family.
When discussing buying a present for his one-year nephew, Palascak said, "What do you get for that person in your life who doesn’t remember you every time you see him?" Hopefully he will return to Milwaukee sometime soon as he definitely gained some fans on Friday night.
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