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March 9, 2011

Legally Funny: Karen Morgan brings her know-how to WICF
by Kate Ghiloni - 0

Karen Morgan is a stand up comic, writer and author. Selected as one of seven finalists to appear on Nickelodeon TV’s Search for the Funniest Mom in America, Karen appeared in two seasons of SFMA. Since then, she has appeared regularly on television, including her humorous parenting segment, You Gotta Be Kidding Me, and as host of The Home Show. Karen’s radio spot, The Mother Load, can be heard on The Coast Morning Show (Portland, Maine) every week. She is the only comedian to be featured by NestlĂ©® in their national campaign. Karen is teaching her Legally Funny / The Worth of Mirth workshop at WICF on Saturday, March 12.

WICF: How did you get started in comedy?

Karen: When my second child was born, I left my law practice to stay home with the babies. When the third one arrived, I found myself at home with 3 kids under the age of three and very few brain cells. I told my husband I needed to get out of the house to protect everyone’s (mostly his) safety. I signed up for a stand-up comedy class taught by Tim Ferrell. At the end of the class, we sent a tape to Nick at Nite for their first Search for the Funniest Mom in America. I was one of seven finalist chosen from over 1,000 entries. That was in 2005, and I’ve managed to avoid going back to a “real” job ever since.

WICF: You do a lot of theater shows in addition to comedy clubs – how are they different?

Karen: You have to work much cleaner in the theatre/PAC (performing arts center) markets than you do in clubs. The audiences tend to be older and a bit more reserved than club audiences. They are definitely more sober. That being said, I like to work theatres because it generally pays more and because my demographic is more likely to see a theatre performance than go to a comedy club. The downside is that it is difficult to work content that may have an edge to it. And you can’t call your own children “little bastards” in Indiana without getting nasty letters.

Karen Morgan brings Legally Funny to WICF

WICF: You tailor a lot of shows, also corporate work – what's the biggest challenge with those type of shows?

Karen: The biggest challenge in tailoring shows is the time involved giving someone a “custom” show. I usually work in material about the industry and perhaps some of the personalities in the organization. I also research the industry before I speak to a corporate group. I know some corporate speakers who will spend a week with a company to learn all the dirt on everyone in the office. I just don’t have the time or, quite frankly, the fortitude. Most importantly with corporate work, you have to know your audience. Engineers and accountants do NOT have the same sense of humor as the rest of the world…trust me.

WICF: You were a lawyer before you were a comic – at first, the two seem incomparable, but are they really?

Karen: My usual joking response is that they are exactly the same – except the jury is hopefully sober. In fact, trial work and stand-up have a lot of similarities: In a courtroom, you are “performing” on a “stage.” For both professions, you need to think quickly on your feet, and good writing and editing skills are a must. My opinion is that stand-up comedy is actually harder than being a trial lawyer (not factoring the years of law school and bar exams). To be a successful stand-up comedian, you have to deliver the goods, without notes or exhibits or props or witnesses. And you have a whole room full of judges, each with a different opinion.

WICF: So who's more challenging – lawyers or bookers?

Karen: There are good ones and bad ones in both professions. I tell my kids, “Throughout your life, you will encounter a lot of nice people in every group. You will also encounter some assholes. It is how you react to each that will make you successful and happy.”

WICF: Is there one, most important, thing to remember on the business-side of comedy?

Karen: It’s so hard to pick just one. So here are three: Be professional. Get a deposit. Know your audience.

WICF: What can comics expect to get from your workshop?

Karen: I use the skills I learned as a lawyer and running my own comedy business to cover a lot of topics - from examining the next step of your career to drafting performance contracts to filing your taxes as a comedian. My goal is to never work a “real” job ever again. Comics who come to this workshop will learn the skills they need to join me – or how to make the next step to getting there. 

Register for Karen's Workshop: 
See Karen perform at WICF: 
Karen's website:  

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