Comedian Leanne Morgan Is The Hilarious Southern Mom Friend We All Need In Our Circle
Her charm’s as thick as her accent.
She's been called the funniest woman in the South, and when you watch her new Netflix special, Leanne Morgan: I'm Every Woman, it's hard to argue that point. From hilarious bits about oversized underwear (she loves 'em so much she named her last 100-city tour the "Big Panty Tour") to wildly relatable musings on everything from marriage to surviving adolescent daughters, Leanne Morgan taps into a fundamental truth of motherhood: You can't make this stuff up.
Just consider Morgan's path to a career in comedy. It all started with selling jewelry from home after she had her first child and needed to bring in some extra cash.
"Oh, my darlin’," she says to me in her Appalachian accent, as thick as biscuit gravy. "When I was selling jewelry in women's houses, like Mary Kay and Tupperware, I was booking so far in advance that the big company noticed and asked me to speak at their regional rallies. So, I'd breastfeed a baby on the toilet at the Opryland Hotel and then hand the baby over to my mom and go up [on stage]."
Morgan admits she was supposed to be promoting the jewelry. But she quickly found her "shtick": talking about breastfeeding, hemorrhoids, and all those mom things you've gotta laugh about to keep from crying.
It struck a chord with her female audiences. "Women would say to me when I'd get off the podium, 'Oh my gosh, you need to do standup.' And that gave me the courage," she shares. So, Morgan attended her first open mic night at a comedy club.
"It was miserable," she admits, laughing. "I remember feeling like I was going to vomit."
She made it through her three minutes, and the club manager liked what he heard. He moved her to the opener. From there, she moved into featuring and then headlining. As she tells it, she wouldn't be standing here today with a new Netflix special had it not been for motherhood.
"You can't make all that up about our bodies and what it goes through … Lord, trying to poop after birthing! When I was young and doing all that, that was the best material I ever had," she says. "That really helped me get started."
Different seasons of motherhood call for different kinds of comedy, though.
"People say to me all the time, 'Did your children ever not want you to talk about them?' When they were in middle school, that was a really dry time; nobody wanted me to speak their name. But elementary school — babies playing T-ball, all of that — was prolific."
It came full circle in high school, for a reason any mother of teens can relate to: "They were into themselves. They didn't care." By the time Morgan's kids got to college, they gave her full license to talk about their lives through the lens of her own.
"Now I've got a grandbaby. My boy got married. I talked about that. Everything that happens in life I've talked about — except middle school," she laughs.
Now 57, Morgan has enough material to make an entire book, and that's exactly what she did. Her first, What in the World? Observations about Motherhood, Marriage, and Middle Age From A Woman Who's Loved and Hated It All, will be published in early 2024.
"I always felt like I had one in me. I feel like I've got several," she says. "This book is more about funny essays to introduce me to the world. And I do love to tell a good funny story."
Morgan could also write a cookbook (“I made a lot of gelatin salads during the pandemic”) and a memoir (“a big Joan Crawford, tell every horrible sinful thing I ever did in the '80s” page-turner). And she'd love to kick out a parenting book one day: "I've already been through it," she says.
Not that she did it alone. Morgan credits the people around her, from the women who encouraged her to leap from hawking jewelry in homes to comedy, to the mom at her kids' school who gave her the best parenting advice she ever got.
"She had children older than me. She said, 'Leanne, you are going to turn around to Charlie,' who's my oldest and was going to his first day of high school, 'and he'll be graduating.' And she was so right. It was just a blur. When they get to that age, things just turn so quickly."
Her follow-up advice? “I would tell people — anybody — to enjoy it, because it goes by like that. Then, all of a sudden, they're driving, and you're in your gown until the third hour of the Today Show because you don't have anybody to take to school.”
Eventually, you get to that sweet spot where your kids grow up and become your best friends. That's the space Morgan currently inhabits, so she understands the tween and teen years can be rough. You find the humor. And you take the rest as best you can.
"Just know when they're saying terrible things, they don't mean it. Let it roll off your back, honey," she says, just as I wish I had a mom friend like Morgan. "Fight the big battles, not the little ones, is what I would tell ya. And kiss and hug, and say, 'Oh, I picked up a lasagna at Costco. Let's have a good time.'"
Watch Leanne Morgan: I'm Every Woman on Netflix, or catch Morgan on her country-wide tour Just Getting Started, going on now.