As the Senior Latino Correspondent – or is it the Senior Immigration Correspondent? – Al Madrigal has been at the center of some of the sharpest, most satisfying field pieces on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for the past two years. It took little time for the San Francisco-bred comedian to find his calling on what is arguably the most influential, respected comedy program of all time— and as a result, Madrigal has become somewhat of an expert on shining a blindingly bright light on some of the country’s walking, breathing, — and fortunately for us, speaking – anachronisms.
There was the guy in Detroit who thought “Chinamen” were behind a free-bridge-to-Canada scam; and then there’s the dude who thinks the noise a firearm makes is the biggest problems with guns; and how about the Tucson school board member who admits – he fucking admits it! – he voted to ban Mexican-American studies in classrooms based on “hearsay?” The last one can be found as one of the extras on Madrigal’s newest comedy album and DVD combo Why is the Rabbit Crying?, out on April 30. Before its release, however, the television premiere of the hour-long special – Madrigal’s first – goes down on Comedy Central this Friday, April 26 at 11 pm ET. You can watch the first five minutes of the special below.
At 41, Madrigal’s mind is firmly affixed to his life at home in Los Angeles, which includes his wife Krystyn and his young son and daughter— and that resonates throughout Rabbit, but not with the vanilla flavor you’d expect from a suburban family man, which he is when he’s not in New York at the Daily Show or on the road headlining our nation’s finer comedy clubs. Throughout the special, there’s plenty opining on the pitfalls of fathering – his son mouths off, his daughter has boundary issues, he’s forced to hang out with dads named “Bob” – but it’s filtered through a learned lens, one that’s been shaped by self-made parents, his Sicilian mother and his 5′ 7″ Mexican father, who once throttled and bloodied a man who used the word “spic” against him (more on that in the Laughspin Podcast episode below).
Unlike most of his contemporaries, Madrigal had a late start as a comedian. He was 28 when he began performing in earnest and 32 when he decided to leave the relative comfort of working for his parents at their staffing company. Simply put, it was Madrigal’s job to fire people. And for that, Madrigal was paid well, wore nice suits, drove a Range Rover and lived in a 3,000-square-foot house in San Francisco. Life was pretty sweet. But he left it all for comedy. At that point he was already married with a kid, so, as he tells me during our interview: “There was no dicking around.” He had to make comedy work. And he has.
I met up with Madrigal on April 23 at The Daily Show in Manhattan, where he occupies a storage-closet-turned office when he’s not in meetings or on assignment in Michigan, Minnesota, Florida, Washington and beyond. In addition to the aforementioned, Al relates an excellent story about a family vacation in Mexico, we talk about All Things Comedy (the podcasting network and comedian collective he founded with Bill Burr), dealing with hecklers and so much more. Check it out and pass it on!
Each week on the Laughspin Podcast, Dylan Gadino and Mike Gogel bring you comedy news, the most recent audio clips from the comedy world and a few laughs (and the occasional special interview episodes). Be sure to subscribe to the Laughspin Podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher.