Originally broadcast at 1:00 p.m. ET Tuesday, July 27, 2021.
Leighann Lord has been a stand-up comedian for 25 years (she says she started when was 10), and Comedy has literally taken her around the world and back again, from Baghdad to Brooklyn (she just kids about Brooklyn, ‘cause she really can’t afford to live in Brooklyn), but she IS coming to Chautauqua!
Comedy has opened the door for Leighann to being an actor, author, and keynote speaker, which she loves, because she believes that humor makes people happy, and happiness gives us all hope that, if we can laugh together, we can live together.
As a second generation American of Caribbean descent, Leighann considers herself lucky (acknowledging that you don’t get to choose your parents), and credits her parents (Mom was a teacher and Dad was a king masquerading as a civil servant) with teaching her how to use her imagination. The baby of the family and the only girl, she grew up with a lot of love and laughter, which is where her comedy comes from. She brags that she is not the funniest person in her family, just the one who gets paid for it.
She had a busy childhood of dance classes, girl scout meetings and regular outings to see Broadway and Off Broadway shows, all of which laid the foundation for her love of theatre and her work as an actor.
A native New Yorker, she was raised in Jamaica, Queens, where she earned a place in the LEAD Program (Leadership Education and Development) and INROADS; graduated Magna Cum Laude from Baruch College, City University of New York, with a degree in Journalism & Creative Writing; and was accepted into City University’s Creative Writing MFA program but chose instead to pursue a career in Stand-Up Comedy. Well... she didn't go straight into stand-up. She took a five-year detour into corporate America, saying both that she hated it, and that it was great! -- that there's nothing like having a job you don't want to motivate you to find the that career you do.
Leighann loves doing stand-up and infusing humor into her keynotes because of the effect it has on people. She loves watching them laugh, know, and grow. When someone comes up to her after a show or a talk and says, "I really needed that;" when they share a bit of their lives with her – anything from a job loss to a death in the family or just a plain old bad day – and they say she made them laugh and feel better: that’s both the humbling and mutually uplifting stuff that she says we all need. Her motto is “Life is hard. Laugh harder.”
Leighann is perfect for our Week Five focus on The Authentic Comedic Voice: Truth Born of Struggle.
This program is made possible by the Rachel Alice Miller Memorial Fund and the Gertrude Elser Schroeder Fund.
About Chautauqua Institution: Chautauqua Institution is a community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue. CHQ Assembly is the online expression of Chautauqua Institution's mission.