RED BANK: TAKE US HOME, KATHLEEN

Repeat Basie favorite Kathleen Madigan returns to Red Bank for an encore Saturday evening. Here’s a sample bit

Long before there was an internet bubble and a housing bubble, there was a comedy bubble — the Comedy Explosion, they called it back in the 1980s, when a hole-in-the-wall “chuckle hut” sprouted up in every other vacant storefront, and when even Monmouth Street in Red Bank boasted two brick-wall standup spots at one brief point in time.

While the explosion became an implosion before long, the wreckage produced a hardy new crop of savvy young performers — among them a cheerfully cheeky native of St. Louis named Kathleen Madigan.

These days, the downtown Monmouth stretch keeps the laff-light burning via Chris Covert’s monthly Jersey Jokers open mics at the Dublin House, as well as a consistent schedule of superstar bookings at the class joint known as the Count Basie Theatre. At the same time, the hard-working Madigan has largely graduated from the club grind, where, she says, the audiences are “all completely hammered before you begin”, to the theater-scale circuit — where, as she explained to us in an interview a few years back, “they’re paying attention, they’re into it… they’re there because they know who you are, and they paid good money to see you.”

Since her first appearance on the Basie boards in 2011, the diminutive dynamo has become one of the venerable venue’s repeat favorites, playing to the hilt her role as pint-sized scourge of pompous personalities, vegetarians, and optimists in general. She’s also continued to rack up major awards, score solo specials on premium cable, make frequent trips to the troops in the Middle East, and, as the publicity says, stand as “the only comedian in the history of NBC’s Last Comic Standing to go unchallenged by any other comedian… meaning no comedian would say they were funnier than her.”

Currently sailing the asphalt seas with her Mermaid Lady Tour, the undisputed champ returns to Red Bank for an 8 p.m. show this Saturday night,for which reasonably priced tickets ($19.50, $25) are available right here.

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