|Interviewer||Lara Smith, Valerie Lopez|
How do you describe Leanne Morgan? She sounds like a country music legend. Perhaps Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton, but she occasionally slips into the persona of Gregory House M.D. Her crowd work often consists of showering audience members with compliments and diagnosis of a “healthy thyroid.” Morgan shares her own personal medical challenges that come with age and perimenopause. After almost two decades in the comedy business, she’s shared the ups and downs of each stage of her life. For Valerie and myself, it has been a year-long goal to sit down and talk with the straight-talking Queen of “Yummy” herself.
Born and raised in a small Tennessee farming community, Leanne Morgan had a tight-knit family. They worked the farms of this small rural community, with her graduating class of only 42. Born to a father who was a great storyteller and a mother who was a “dazzler,“ Morgan described her childhood as “sweet.” It’s obvious Morgan inherited those traits which combined to make her amazing stage presence and storytelling come to life.
Morgan went to UT (no, not that one), The University of Tennessee, but left the school at age 21 and married her first husband. Small town life had not yet prepared her for college. Unfortunately, her great family life had not prepared her for what would become an abusive marriage. By 23, she left the relationship, and with the support of that wonderful family, returned to The University of Tennessee. The experience left her with a sense of failure, that in time would turn to triumph.
Morgan’s comedy beginnings did not happen in a conventional way. She had remarried after meeting her husband during her return to college. Her first “open mics” were Tupperware-style jewelry parties in living rooms. After working an event for the Kiwanis club, a man approached her and asked her to do her own comedy show at his club. It was an hour. You read that correctly. Her first show was an hour. Her comedy beginnings were so organic and she’s got such a natural gift. In all my interviews I’ve asked when a person realized that comedy was something they could do. Morgan’s was the most original yet. “One night a woman [at a jewelry party] peed on a couch and I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve got it. I thought I had it, but I’ve got it.’”
And got it she did. Morgan and her husband relocated for a few years to San Antonio. In that time, she began playing Cap City Comedy Club and her skills earned her the distinction of skipping directly from opener to headliner, a rare feat. She worked panels on The Dr. Phil Show (he’s a personal fan), The View, toured with Southern Fried Chicks, toured with Paula Deen, and this year has seen her Dry Bar Comedy special So Yummy go viral with over 26 million views.
In addition, she can be heard each week on Sirius XM and she also has a podcast, Sweaty and Pissed, with her nurse practitioner Karen Nickell. The University of Tennessee recognized her with their 2012 Accomplished Alumni Award and regularly invites her to address their student body, serving as an inspiration and role model.
Leanne’s strength lies in her ability to connect with her fans as an audience and also on a very personal level. She says, “I don’t want to go through this life and not make connections with people. I am a people person.” The line of people waiting to talk with her and hold her hand can get pretty long. She spends careful attention with each person that is there to see her.
“I don’t want to go through this life and not make connections with people. I am a people person.”
In talking with Morgan, it was quickly obvious that her sweet close family upbringing impacted the way she handles her own family at home. She has put her children and husband first, before every decision in her career. She counts career rejections as blessings in disguise for her family. This “family first” mantra is what makes her so lovable to adoring fans. She’s the wife, mother, sister, best friend we all wish we had or want to be. The dazzler storyteller from Tennessee.