MONTREAL — Lewis Black and Kathleen Madigan – both familiar thanks to countless TV appearances – are back at Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival this week.
The two popular stand-up comedians spoke to Global News on Wednesday hours before hitting the stage.
“I’m obviously out of my mind,” Black said, when asked what makes his brilliantly bitter rants so funny.
“What makes it funny is I’m nuts. When I’m on stage, I’m crazy.”
Watching the cantankerous comic, who turns 66 in August, one can’t help but worry his head might explode.
Have no fear, Black insisted.
“My blood pressure is spectacular,” he said. “It’s 120 over 80. You can get me really excited and then within a minute my blood pressure is back to normal.”
Black, a JFL regular, credits the festival for at least some of his success.
“JFL, for all intents and purposes, was kind of instrumental in being part and parcel of a bunch of things that happened to push me to where I’m at,” he explained. “Wherever that is.”
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Madigan, 48, is back in Montreal for one delicious reason.
“It’s the pizza,” she said. “I’m not kidding. It’s the smoked meat pizza.
“You really can’t get it anywhere else in the world, that I know of. It’s not available in the States.”
Madigan is often described as one of the best female comics around – even though she’s simply one of the best comics around.
“I don’t wake up in the morning and think ‘I am a lady.’ It’s just something I don’t think about,” she said.
Madigan acknowledged the JFL line-up is dominated by male acts – something she sees in the industry generally.
“A lot of women don’t want to be on the road 300 nights a year,” she explained. “They show up at open mic night and they’re funny and they’re clever and then they don’t continue.”
Why did she stick with it?
“I was 23 and stupid and I liked to travel,” Madigan replied. “It suited me.”
She added: “You have to be a little kind of crazy. Something’s wrong with me.”
On stage, Madigan, jokes about real-life events, her personal experiences and “the things that I’m interested in.”
READ MORE: Bobby Slayton is back to do the ‘Nasty’ at Just For Laughs
Doing stand-up is her job, but Madigan said it’s almost always fun.
“I write a lot really just for me because otherwise I would get bored and hate what I’m doing,” she explained. “Some nights it’s a job but it’s not called Happy Hour, it’s called performing. It’s work.
“People are like, ‘Go have fun on stage.’ If I was really going to have fun on stage there’d be a video poker machine or I’d be hitting golf balls.”
Madigan said her material almost never offends (“I don’t like confrontation,” she said) but she believes nothing is off-limits for comics (“Say whatever you want and let the cards fall where they may”).
Madigan recalled being heckled for poking fun at Sarah Palin.
“It wasn’t even really that mean,” she said. “It was just pointing out, because she was the governor of Alaska, that there’s more reindeer than people in Alaska so it’s really not that big of an accomplishment.”