FARGO — In stand-up comedy circles, some use observational humor, making jokes out of things they’ve seen. For Leanne Morgan, her material is more conversational. The comedian wins over crowds with her Southern charm and stories about family life and getting older in a way that’s like having a chat, but letting the other person do all of the talking.
One-on-one, she’s likely to use your name at the beginning and end of every sentence and pepper pleasantries like “darling” and “honey” in between so many times it can make a Midwestern man blush.
Morgan’s down-home charm makes it up to Fargo this weekend for four shows in two nights at Sanctuary Events Center. It’s the start of her first national tour — a tour that was supposed to have started last summer.
“This tour is the biggest thing to happen to me and then that stupid COVID hit,” she says from her home in Knoxville, Tenn. “Honey, it’s a nightmare. And comedy is like losing a muscle if you don’t perform. So I just took a big breath of air and have been holding it since last March. So I’m just so tickled to be doing this. I just hope I don’t get scared and fall off the stage. Is that too emotional for you, my darling?”
Morgan got her start using humor selling jewelry at house parties about 20 years ago. She developed a following and booked appearances at Rotary and Kiwanis events and eventually landed spots on “The View” and "Dr. Phil," as well as a Paula Deen show.
The COVID-19 pandemic halted her “The Big Panty” tour before it could even kick off and kept her grounded in Tennessee.
Like many others, she spent COVID watching too much Netflix.
“Do you remember ‘Tiger King’? Is that little man still alive?” she says in her thick Tennessee drawl.
At the time, she had a new hour routine worked up for the tour and has added material over the last year.
“I gained a lot of weight. That’s something fun I can talk about,” she says. “It’s been a mess, John. I just started thinking of fun things to cook.”
She and Paula Deen share not only a similar sense of humor, but a similar love for what she calls “country cooking” — chicken pot pies and Jell-O salads — for her ailing mother who she’s been caring for.
“Oh, I made the best chocolate chip Bundt cake,” she says. “I’m telling you, John, it will make you want to smack somebody. It’s the best recipe. It’s moist and I know people don’t like that word, but John, but when I make it, my husband is on fire.”
In past specials, she’s joked about going to CrossFit gyms, but she’s since moved on to Jazzercise.
“When you’re 55 and have menopause, it’s just easier on our joints,” she says. “Oh John, you really should have seen me in the ’80s. I really was a looker.”
The COVID lockdown meant she got to spend even more time with her family, including her “baby” 23-year-old daughter who finished school just before the pandemic and was set to go to Los Angeles to be a movie makeup artist, but instead moved back home.
“She and I may fight in the front yard, but we’ve had a ball,” Morgan says. “But in the last couple of weeks she’s had it with her daddy and me and is ready to go. It’s been great to have your own makeup artist at home, but she's sick of us.”
Morgan has also been able to give more attention to her first grandchild, who is only a few months old.
Now that she’s a grandma, she has fun looking at her children’s approach to parenting.
“His little mommy and daddy, they act like I never raised children. I find that funny,” she says.
While dad jokes are known for being corny, she says mom jokes are a whole different thing.
“Mom jokes are more out of desperation,” she says. “A lot of the mamas, the humor comes from the struggle. It’s stressful. Mama humor is more trying to just get through it using humor.”
And among the moms and middle-aged women, she’s found her people.
“My fans and my demographic are the sweetest, funniest people. They don’t mind me being fat in my pants,” she says. “I hope I don’t need an interpreter. What I say is universal. It’s family-friendly, but you don’t want to bring your teenager. They won’t like it. I talk about menopause.”
If you go
What: Leanne Morgan with opener Jenni Lou Russi
When: 7 and 10 p.m. Friday, April 2, and Saturday, April 3
Where: Sanctuary Events Center, 670 Fourth Ave. N., Fargo
Info: Tickets for these ID-only shows are $35, plus fees; https://jadepresents.com/