Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Interview with Leighann Lord: Comedian and Blogger

Often heard and seen on XM Sirius, comedy clubs, and other venues, Leighann Lord is seriously hella funny. Her comedy is the perfect mix of sarcasm and social commentary. More than a one-liner, she's rocked on TV - appearing on ABC (The View), HBO (The Original Def Comedy Jam), Comedy Central (The World Stands Up and Premium Blend), Lifetime (Girl's Night Out), and FoxNews (The Strategy Room). A writer as well, Leighann's views on an array of topics can be read in Stage Time Magazine, The Huffington Post, and on her website: Ladies and gentlemen, meet Leighann Lord.

Will: Who is Leighann Lord? Why comedy?

Leighann: Leighann Lord is a world traveling stand-up comedian, writer, actress, black belt, type A workaholic-perfectionist, and unabashed sci-fi fan. I love writing, performing and making people laugh. It also helps that I hated my day job and being cooped up in a cubicle all day made me itch. And by itch, I mean cry.

Will: How long have you been in the business?

Leighann: I started in 1992. I prefer to say it that way than actually doing the math. Big numbers make me nervous.

Will: What is the process for creating a joke?

Leighann: It helps to start off with a bit of brain damage. Nothing serious, just enough to help you see the world a little differently than other people and feel compelled to tell them about it when they’re drinking.

Seriously, my process starts with something I see, hear or read. I always carry a little notebook, and I write down anything that captures my attention so I can come back to it later and flesh it out. In fleshing it out I ask questions, play with wording, write, rewrite, and get it “ready” to do on stage. Depending on the joke this can take a few minutes or several years.

Will: How does that turn into a set?

Leighann: New jokes are like baby birds. Throw them out of the nest too soon and they crash and die. I try to position them logically and thematically in and around existing material in my set that already works. A new joke about the oil spill (because that’s oh, so hilarious) would probably work best with other topical, political or environmental material. I like to give new jokes a cushion, if they don’t work. There’s something behind it that so the audience doesn’t get restless and storm the stage with torches.

Will: Describe your comedic style?

Leighann: If comedy were music, I’d be jazz. I like to call what I do thinking cap comedy. It’s smart and works best when people bring their brain to the show rather than leaving it in the glove compartment. For comedy fans, I’m George Carlin if he’d been born a black woman.

Will: What makes your comedy yours?

Leighann: I personally and painstakingly write every joke with love and salt it to taste.

Will: Is there really a difference between Black and White comediennes?

Leighann: Yes. Their color and preferred choice of hair products.

Will: Is there still a stigma on female comediennes?

Leighann: Yes, there is still a perception, albeit misguided, that women aren’t funny. We just don’t have the room to fail that male comics do. Truth be told, there are still way more male comics than female comics, and a lot of the guys are quite bad. So statistically I’m surprised anyone thinks male comics are funny at all.

Will: Has comedy become too raunchy? That is, has the cursing and sex stuff diminished the art form of comedy?

Leighann: Comedy has always been raunchy. That’s the nature of the beast. Back in the day our parents and grandparents listened to it surreptitiously on party records in the basement. Redd Foxx, anybody? That said, the problem now is the plethora of comedians doing raunchy humor so poorly. They’re not writing; they’re simply trying to shock the audience sans content. Eventually, the shock wears off.

Will: What makes you laugh?

Leighann: My dog. He’s hilarious! Very raunchy though, go figure. Actually, I love heady humor, comics like George Carlin, Franklyn Ajaye, Dick Gregory.

Will: What is it like when the audience is with you?

Leighann: Heaven.

Will: What is it like when they are not?

Leighann: Hell.

Will: What advice would you or do you give to someone interested in becoming a professional comedienne?

Leighann: Go get therapy instead.

Will: Any final thoughts?

Leighann: Live Long & Prosper.

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