News Column

'Daily Show's' Al Madrigal talks Oddball Festival tour

August 21, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 21--"Who else are you talking to?" Al Madrigal asks at the top of a recent phone interview. "Hopefully it's not just me."

The comedian and "Daily Show" Senior Latino Correspondent took a few minutes to chat with me in advance of his appearance at the Funny or Die-sponsored Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival. The 15-city tour opens at the Austin360 Amphitheater with one show on Friday before packing up and heading off to the Woodlands.

"Has this ever been done before?" asks Madrigal, who insists that he's a just a small part of the event. "I mean, there are obviously huge acts that come through, but to have this variety and the quality that you have here, I think it's unprecedented."

He could be right. In addition to Madrigal, the tour features headliners Dave Chappelle and Flight of the Conchords. Comics Demetri Martin, Jeff Ross, Hannibal Buress and Madrigal's "Daily Show" pal Kristen Schaal also join him onstage for the Austin date.

Madrigal has performed with just about all of the other comics on the tour. "We're all friendly, so it works," he says.

The comic, a San Francisco native who commutes between Los Angeles and New York, has been here before -- he taped a comedy special, "Why Is The Rabbit Crying?," last October at ACL Live.

His standup is considerably different from the tightly scripted commentary he provides on "The Daily Show." Madrigal tells stories, delivers punchlines and makes points about everyday life.

Having grown up watching Comedy Central during college -- "Short Attention Span Theater" featuring Jon Stewart was a favorite -- the comic "procrastinated," he says, and didn't begin his own standup career until age 28.

Madrigal's only other real job was as a hatchet man (think George Clooney's character from "Up In the Air") delivering pink slips to blue-collar employees. "They mostly deserved it," he says, "but firing people is never really fun."

Now he is amazed to find himself working alongside the comics who inspired him. A "Daily Show" producer saw Madrigal perform at Caroline's and invited him to submit a tape. "I got to audition with Jon and he shook my hand and said 'Welcome to The Daily Show.' Your comedy career is filled with these surreal moments that you don't ever see coming."

This tour was another of those things, and Madrigal is looking forward to it, even though it will take him away from his family.

"It's always difficult to leave kids that are at an age where they actually like you," he says. "But this is the one show where it's worth it. This is a great gig."

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(c)2013 Austin American-Statesman, Texas

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