Image Entertainment // 2010 // 64 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // February 2nd, 2011
"Finally, a comedian who isn't whining, insulting, or self-loathing."
Publicity is an awkward thing. On the cover of this Blu-ray release of Kathleen Madigan: Gone Madigan we get not one, not two, but three quotes from fellow comics touting her genius. We get Jay Leno saying she's "One of America's funniest female comics," which manages to sound both condescending and vague. Then there's fellow tour-mate Lewis Black claiming she's "The funniest comic in America, bar none," which at least shows some sensitivity to the rest of the world (although "The funniest comic in English, bar none" would have been funnier). Finally, we get hyperbole from Ron White himself with "Easily one of the best comics alive." Maybe Kathleen Madigan doesn't stand up next to all the dead comics we've acquired over the years, but at least three contemporary comics are willing to stand up for her show. After this disc, it's not hard to see why: Kathleen Madigan is a decent storyteller whose middle-of-the-road humor should appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers.
Kathleen Madigan: Gone Madigan is 64 minutes of standup from Madigan recorded at a well-attended show in New York City. The vast majority of the show is autobiographical, discussing everything from Madigan's USO trip to Afghanistan to her experiences with her parents and technology. The rest of the show is her observations on the current world situation.
Madigan aims for big targets and bats at them with kid gloves. She tackles the most obvious issues (the recession, Obama, Palin, etc.), and, while her jokes are never bad, they also fail to say anything particularly funny or insightful about the subjects she tackles. For instance, when discussing the recession, Madigan says she knew for years that the economy was heading to the toilet, because she went to buy a house a few years ago she told the bank office she was a comic. There was a misunderstanding, and children's clown got put on the application. Despite that, Madigan was approved for a $350,000 loan. So, the logic goes, if we're giving money to children's clowns, then the rules are a little too lax and we're headed for trouble. Obviously my description is going to make the joke sound flat (and I don't want to overstate the case against Madigan), but it's a minor joke about a major issue. Most of the show is like that, eliciting a grin here, a chuckle there, but without any fall-on-the-floor moments. It is, for lack of a better term, background comedy. It's not offensive to have it on, but it's hard to stay engrossed in for an hour.
With that said, Madigan is obviously a road-tested professional. She's got her shtick down and she knows how to move through the material in a way that seems conversational (even if she does sometimes veer from topic to topic without apparent logic, much like a conversation). There's nothing terribly controversial about most of Madigan's material (unless you're such a diehard fan of Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Oprah you can't laugh at their foibles), and she attacks figures on both the left and right sides of the political spectrum. She's also not above self-deprecating humor, so while her attitude seems a bit "above it all," she's also willing to make fun of herself. Perhaps the places where her act runs aground occur when she does some really cheesy vocal impressions during some bits. Her fake Chinese accent is especially cringe-worthy. However, they're not enough of a feature to ruin the show.
Like Madigan's show, this disc is really middle of the road. The AVC encoded 1080i transfer is pretty bland. There's a lot of noise and compression artifacts, which isn't terribly surprising given was filmed in a dark theater. Still, between that and the unimpressive level of detail this transfer is pretty disappointing. The audio, however, is as good as the video is bad. There's a decent amount of directionality about of the crowd, and Madigan's voice comes out clearly from the center. The mix is excellent so that the applause is obvious without disrupting what Madigan is saying. Subtitles are also helpfully included for those who like to read their comedy.
Extras include two short pieces. In the first 3-minute segment, or "interview" as it's called, we see Madigan talk about her life (which is disorganized and full of sinus problems). Then there's a 15-minute "behind the scenes," which looks like they just handed somebody a camera while they followed Madigan around. There are some funny moments with her family (especially after you've seen her talk about them in the show), but overall it feels disorganized.
Kathleen Madigan is a fine journeywoman comic. She's got a breezy style that should appeal to a wide range of laughter seekers, even if she's probably not going to be the favorite of many. The technical merits of this disc are suspect, but it's worth a rental for fans of Madigan's work.
She might have Gone Madigan, but Kathleen Madigan is not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
Running Time: 64 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated