Kathleen Madigan is from Missouri--a fact that, she admits to audiences, isn't always a source of pride.
"The Midwest is boring," she says. "I live in St. Louis. We have that big arch. The whole time I was a kid I'm going, 'Yeah, Dad, you know they call that the Gateway to the West. I think the idea was to keep moving. "
But Madigan, who is appearing at the Brea Improv through Sunday, says she does find the need to occasionally defend the Midwest.
"I was in Los Angeles and this woman said, 'I heard you people in the Midwest are so bored you actually go out in the middle of the day and tip cows over while they're asleep.'
"I told her, 'No. . . . We do it at night, all right?' "
Bovines aside, Madigan is a Midwestern breath of fresh air.
At 25--and with only two years of full-time comedy under her belt--she has a surprisingly polished delivery and clever, well-written material.
That, combined with an engaging girl-next-door quality, has made her a favorite on Fox's "Comic Strip Live." And, as if to confirm the 5-foot-1 comic's growing stature on the stand-up circuit, Madigan was recently asked to appear on HBO's "Women of the Night" special, to be taped June 15 in San Francisco.
" 'Very sarcastic' is the way I'd describe my humor," Madigan said by phone from Kansas City, Mo., where she was appearing last week. "It's sarcasm, but it's light. It's just fun. I'm by no means preaching or trying to change anyone's opinion, really, about anything."
Madigan, who has a degree in journalism, honed her comedic sarcasm by appearing at open-mike nights in St. Louis while working on an in-house publication for a downtown athletic businessmen's club. One night, she recalled, a man who saw her act asked her to perform the next Friday night at a bar called Hooters.
"I thought that was the easiest $25 I ever made--just to walk up and talk for five minutes because that's all I had," she said. "And, oh, a free T-bone. Let's not forget that."
Madigan hasn't been able to spend much time at home in St. Louis lately, not with being on the road more than 40 weeks a year. Not that she's complaining.
"I like it," she said. "A lot of people can find a million reasons to (complain) about it, but as long as I don't have a day job, I'm a happy camper."
Besides, the road work is paying off.
A sports fan who devotes a fair share of her act to the subject, Madigan can't get over how serious the anglers on those television fishing programs are.
"Have you ever gone fishing with someone who's as serious as those guys on those shows?" she says. "It's just not fun anymore because they all do the same thing: Get you in the boat, take you to the back of the cove and then as soon as you start to talk, they go, 'Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! The fish can hear you!'
"Yeah, like they didn't hear that 75 horsepower motor just whip into the back of the cove."
Who: Kathleen Madigan.
When: Thursday, June 6, and Sunday, June 9, at 8:30 p.m.; Friday, June 7, at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, June 8, at 8 and 10:30 p.m.
Where: The Improv, 945 E. Birch St., Brea.
Whereabouts: Take the Lambert Road exit off the Orange (57) Freeway and go west. Turn left on State College Boulevard and right on Birch Street. The Improv is in the Brea Marketplace, across from the Brea Mall.
Wherewithal: $7 and $10.
Where to call: (714) 529-7878.