The “Mrs. Maisel of Appalachia” has hit it big in her menopausal years with her everywoman brand of stand-up
Comedian Leanne Morgan drew from what she knew when she first began telling jokes as a young mom selling jewelry for pocket cash at house parties in East Tennessee.
With three kids under the age of five, Morgan peppered her early routines with tales of hemorrhoids, night nursing and “not knowing my own name I was so tired,” she says. “Raising babies was my main thing.”
So when perimenopause hit after she’d become a professional stand-up comic some 20 years later, it was only natural to work her brain fog, hot flashes (“I sweat like I’ve been doing Zumba all night”) and hormonal imbalances into her set. “I’ve always been honest and I’ve always talked about everything. I talked about my body and what it was going through,” says Morgan, 57, who has called herself the "Mrs. Maisel of Appalachia". “Perimenopause is one of the hardest things—it sneaks up on you, and you feel crazy. So I had to talk about it.”
That openness has been a hit for Morgan, who in her menopausal years is seeing her biggest success yet. Her 2017 special So Yummy has more than 50 million views, and this year she has a Netflix special (I’m Every Woman), a national tour and has just filmed her first film role, opposite Reese Witherspoon and Will Ferrell, in the upcoming comedy You’re Cordially Invited.
Her comedy has also been a source of personal healing. “I’ve used humor to get through things—having babies, things in my marriage—and it’s the same thing with perimenopause,” says Morgan, who lives in Knoxville, Tenn., with her husband, Chuck. (Her three grown children and two “yummy” grand-babies all live nearby.) “Anytime you see the funny in something, it helps.”
When she began experiencing perimenopausal symptoms herself, Morgan turned to her nurse practitioner Karen Nickell, who, Morgan says "saved my life and got me straightened out." And then Morgan did what came naturally and talked about it.
She and Nickell hosted the "Sweaty and Pissed" podcast throughout the pandemic, building a following of fellow menopausal women along the way. "I like to educate if I can, but also it's a time in life where you have this wonderful community with your girlfriends, talking about, 'Are you sweating at night? Are you up all night? Are you getting chills? Do you feel like you have a fever? Are you itching?' All those things," she says. "Women don't know what to do and I love talking about it."
Over the years, she has learned how much her honesty has helped her fans. At one point in her routine, she describes the confusion of a man in bed next to a woman with “chicken fuzz” hair thanks to the sweat from a hot flash. “Is that steam coming off of her?” he asks. That bit has proved to be a moment of revelation: “I think it sheds a little light on something that the sweet men in the audience didn’t know was happening. Women have come up to me afterward saying, ‘Now my husband gets it!’”
Those are the connections she values. “These precious women that felt unseen, all of a sudden have a comedian speaking to them,” she says. “And we all learn from each other and love on each other. That has been so much sweeter than ‘Oh, I’ve got a comedy career from this.’
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