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9 Quick Questions for Leanne Morgan

Comedian keeps it real in Netflix ‘I’m Every Woman’ comedy special

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Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty Images

Leanne Morgan, 57, is finding success in her 50s. Video clips of the comedian began circulating on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic, and people loved her thick Southern accent and hilarious storytelling. She landed a Netflix special, Leanne Morgan: I’m Every Woman, and her first movie role in the upcoming You’re Cordially Invited, playing Reese Witherspoon’s big sister. She’s also in the midst of a cross-country stand-up tour spreading laughter with her relatable humor about motherhood, marriage and menopause.

What do you feel has led to your recent success?

Timing. I’ve always talked about the same kind of stuff. I’ve done comedy for over 20 years. There were times I’d be up on top of the world. … There were other times I could not get arrested. Nobody cared. I’ve always talked about women our age — women that are vital and feel good and have life left and that Hollywood ignores. I remember looking at my grandmama when she was in her 50s and thinking she looked 100. It’s different now. We want to feel good and accomplished and do things. I hit a niche with women. They’re proud of me. They want to see me win because they feel like I’m speaking for them.

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You talk in your act about going through menopause. Any tips for the women trying to survive it?

Oh my darling, it’s all the same thing that you’ve heard about everything else. It’s about taking care of yourself really and truly. Getting out, moving every day, having community, eating right, all those things that we all ought to be doing anyway. I look back on it and I think … I would eat out of emotions and I would eat the wrong things. I remember being so tired and my thyroid had crashed and I went to bed instead of getting out and walking or exercising. I let it whip me, and I shouldn't have. I should have done the exact opposite. I should have taken care of myself better. My children were leaving for college, and that made me sad. It’s a weird time in a woman’s life, but I would have coped better if I could do it now. I know now. If I could go back, I would do it differently.

What are you doing now to keep yourself healthy?

I got up this morning … and I went and did a 20-minute full-body workout I Googled on YouTube, “women’s exercise with weights over 40.” I ate an apple and what was supposed to be a protein drink, but it was more like a slushy, with a lot of good greens. I’m realizing that for me to do this and keep this pace up, I have got to train like Olympians. A lot of people in the business said, “Leanne, you need to take good care of yourself because it’s gonna take a lot of stamina.”

This is your second major cross-country comedy tour. How does all of this success feel?

It all was such a whirlwind. [On my first tour] “The Big Panty Tour,” I had never been through anything like that. I had some impostor syndrome. I thought, Am I worthy of this? Gangs of women would blow kisses to me and bring me gifts and set them on the stage, and I thought, I need to go home with every one of them and wash their clothes and clean their house. Look at how precious they are to me. I would look out in that audience every night and think I would be best friends with every one of these women. Every city I go in, [the audience members] are my women that I would go to Jazzercise with.

spinner image leanne morgan on stage in front of large audience
Morgan's comedy special, ‘I’m Every Woman,’ is currently sreaming on Netflix, and she's also in the midst of a cross-country stand-up tour.
Troy Conrad

How has it been working with Reese Witherspoon?

She is a doll. We met years ago in Nashville. My mother had just had a stroke. It was a horrible situation. I saw her at an after-party for the CMA Awards. I was nobody. I said to her, “My mom's had a stroke,” and she held onto me and looked in my eyes, and I could tell that we bonded. We hit the pandemic, she starts watching my stuff, following me. She feels a connection to me because her little mama grew up in Harriman, Tennessee, which is right outside of where I’ve raised my children. … She asked that I do this table read [for the movie]. You talk about a shock. I’ve never done anything like this. ... On the set, every day she’ll ask me, “How are you doing?” We’ve all become like a family. Reese is as down to earth as you can be to be a movie star. She’s precious and wants to know, “How’s your Netflix special doing? How’s the tour going?” She’s very darling. She wants to know about my kids, my grandbaby that was just born.

What’s it like on the movie set?

I’m having a ball. It’s long days, but you sit around a lot. People told me, “Leanne, you’re going to hurry up, go get makeup and hair, and then you’re going to sit and wait.” Then you go and you shoot one little scene, you have one line. I’m learning how this business works. It really is fun. I sit around and talk to all kinds of people and have a ball. I’m a talker, so I’m good with that. I’m nervous. I want to do a good job, and this is a new muscle for me. … I’m not Meryl Streep, but I’m having a good time, and I’m learning how it works.

Who are your comedic inspirations?

I started out in this business wanting to be a sitcom star. I think it’s my age growing up with sitcoms. I love Lucille Ball and I Love Lucy. I saw Roseanne Barr the first time she was ever on Johnny Carson, and it blew me away. I thought, I want that sitcom like she had. Her point of view was so clear. I always loved Jay Leno. I love David Letterman. I’ve always wanted a talk show, too. I love Ellen DeGeneres.There’s a million that I could name. Jerry Seinfeld. I’m a storyteller, so I gravitate towards storytellers.

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Have your kids told you that anything’s off limits when talking about them in your act?

When they were in middle school, everybody told me to not speak their names. You know, middle school children are already self-conscious, and everybody is going through puberty. I mentioned my boy going through puberty on local radio in Knoxville, and one of his classmates was going to an orthodontist appointment and heard it. My son said, “Do not talk about that.” I was so sad and worried that I had hurt him that I backed off. Then when they were in high school, they were like, “We don't care what you say.” And then in college, they were like, “Who are you? We don't care, Mom. Good night.”

What would you tell your younger self now?

You’re pretty fun. You’re wonderful. You’ve got talent. Everything’s going to be alright. Just trust yourself. Trust your gut instinct. You’re going to be OK. At 21, I was flailing. I dropped out of college. I had married for the first time to a man that was a nightmare. I got divorced at 23. ... I went back to college and finished my degree, and I’m so thankful for that. It gave me confidence after being through something bad and feeling like a failure. I wish I could say to her, It’s going to all work out, and it’s going to work out better than you’ve ever imagined.

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