Kathleen Madigan brings the laughs

By DUSTEN RADER

Special to the OBSERVER

JAMESTOWN – Kathleen Madigan’s Friday evening performance may not have sold out the Reg Lenna Civic Center, but she did fill the theater with a sea of laughter and applause.

Almost every one of the seats in the nearly 1,300 capacity theater was kept warm during Madigan’s stand-up act. But, before she took the stage, the audience was treated to two other ladies of laughter.

The evening began when Journey Gunderson, executive director of the Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy, stepped out onto the stage in a tight black cocktail dress, which was a piece from the collection of Melody Thomas Scott that would be auctioned later during the festival.

After highlighting some of the other events that would occur during the weekend, Gunderson surprised the audience by announcing a cameo performance.

“It’s my pleasure, and honor to introduce a surprise opener for Kathleen Madigan tonight,” said Gunderson.

“A hometown favorite, who we all love from 2012, is back in town and stayed to support her friend Kathleen. It’s my honor to introduce the hilarious Tammy Pescatelli.”

Pescatelli’s act quickly garnered the audience’s attention. Her tough, no-nonsense, but less than serious attitude worked a rumble of laughter out of the darkness.

“People say to me all the time, ‘Where do you get your material?” and I’m like, ‘I wake up,'” said Pescatelli. “Did you see that (Oprah) just did the commencement speech for Harvard. In her speech, she told Harvard graduates, ‘You now can go forth into the world and make your resume reflect anything you like it to say.’ The rest of us have been doing that for years – I invented the Internet.”

Pescatelli closed her short opener with some banter between herself and a man in the front row of the audience. She joked that the man kept looking at his watch, and that she’d finish when she felt like it. Her last joke touched on a woman in Florida being eaten by an alligator. She then introduced Madigan.

“He had to eat her, he kept getting crap from his gator friends” said Pescatelli. “Quite clearly she’s the best in the business. You’ve seen her on every possible show on television that deals with comedy, and she has a new special that’s coming out exclusively on Netflix this fall. Please welcome the fabulous, the funny, the talented – Kathleen Madigan.”

Madigan’s straight-forward approach allowed her to capture the audience’s attention with little struggle. She took the stage and addressed the audience by asking where all the people came from.

“It’s a lovely little town, and I thought there can’t be that many people, but clearly you have the cars – there’s lots of parking here huh?,” said Madigan.

She went on to talk about mermaids in Norfolk, Va., and thanked the one audience member who cheered when she announced that she was originally from St. Louis, which she said flip-flops with Detroit for being ranked No. 1 in murders.

“Not this year, No. 1 in murder is Flint, Mich.,” said Madigan. “That’s impossible, there’s not enough people in Flint, like are you taking people from other cities and saying count it, count it, count it – somebody already took mermaids and we need something.”

Madigan kept the audience roaring with laughter throughout the course of her performance, and a great number of the patrons stood for an ovation as she left the stage.

The Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy annually hosts a Festival of Comedy, which occurs Aug. 1-4, and in the past has hosted comedians such as Ray Romano, Ellen DeGeneres and Paula Poundstone. In addition to the GIs and Kathleen Madigan, the festival will also feature Bill Engvall tonight at 8 p.m. The festival will also feature “Comedy Late Night” with 16 new voices of comedy, which will serve as the recording platform for the festival’s first live album, Aug. 1-3. For more information visit www.lucycomedyfest.com.

During the festival, the Lucy Desi Museum, established in 1996, will also be available to the public. The Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Center and the Lucy Desi Museum are located at 2 W. Third St. in Jamestown. For more information visit lucy-desi.com.