It’s always great when Comedienne and Actress Luenell rolls into Cleveland. Currently, she’s here in town, performing at the Cleveland Improv. Regardless of how frequent we see her (she’s definitely here a lot), she always manages to give us something totally new, and in all, her performance is beyond amazing. Luenell has a way of capturing the audience’s attention commanding the stage like no other. What we’re most grateful about in it all is whenever she stops here in town, she’s always willing to sit down and break bread with us about her show, and all the other amazing things she has going on in her life and career. Today was much like any other when talking to Luenell. She has you laughing right out the gate, and it’s just an all around good conversation with someone you ultimately realize is just like you. She’s doing what she needs to do to move forward in this world, and having a little fun in the midst of it all.
Check out our conversation below with the comedic goddess we all know as Luenell!
UG Digital Magazine: You are always willing to speak when you come to town, so thank you so much
Luenell: Yes, and it’s no problem.
UG Digital Magazine: We posted a press release at the top of the summer once we knew you were coming, so we were so excited all summer long waiting on you to get here. As always, you do an amazing show. What should everyone expect this time around?
Luenell: Well, I’m coming fresh off my family reunion in Arkansas, I’ll definitely talk bout some of those experiences. My daughter is entering her third year of college, so I will definitely be talking about that. Then, my usual, sexually explicit, tutorial classes. I call them my Luenell master classes. I’ll be going into a lot of that for relationship humor, you know.
UG Digital Magazine: I swear you do the best shows. Every time you’re here, I feel like we get something new. How long does it take you to get a show together?
Luenell: Well, they come in pieces. I don’t sit down and write like some comedians. I don’t try to make up things or think up things. As things come, I make bullet points in my phone, then go back and remember to incorporate it. I also don’t really go out and practice. I practice right in from of everyone. I just throw it in and do it, because my humor is so conversational. I don’t really do jokes. I’m more of a storyteller. I try to do a beginning, middle, and end. I like to have a theme in my shows. I just get up there and be me and tell what’s happening to me because I feel like an “every woman” type of chic. I think that I can speak for a lot of women and say what a lot of chics have on their mind. I’ve experienced things that everyone goes through, so that’s where my material comes from. It’s just every day living.
UG Digital Magazine: I’m glad you say that because I think people get that “everyday woman” type of vibe from you. They love your advice, and genuinely want to hear what you have to say. I see it more and more. Obviously you were a part of Kim Whitley’s show, and I know we discussed that last time. Since then, you’ve been on other reality shows, and people want to know your opinion. They’re learning from you.
Luenell: I feel that way as well. Whenever I do a 6-show weekend, which is one show on Thursdays, two shows on Fridays and Saturdays, and one show on Sundays, I do a Q&A where people can ask me things. Normally, you go to these shows and look at the comic like we may as well be behind glass, and then you leave, not knowing anything more about them than you did when they came. If you come to my Sunday shows, I do a Q&A. Last week, somebody asked me “What would I be if I had not been a Comedienne”?. I said it would have had to be some type of a teacher because I appreciate learning things, and I appreciate people learning things from me. In my comedy, I try to open maybe some of the guys’ eyes to what women are thinking, and vice versa, and have more than just laughs. It’s more of an awakening, as people would say.
UG Digital Magazine: Thats interesting you say a teacher. Obviously, you’ve been in comedy for thirty years. Did you do other things before this?
Luenell: Well, actually only 26 years because I’m only 35 (laughing), we gon’ ride with that (laughing). The first thing I did in front of an audience of course was church choir, unless you count the kindergarten Christmas play. I think I was Mrs. Santa Claus or something. Then I did the church choir, and from there I went into theatre. From theatre, I went into film, and then television. Then I went to standup. So I did all other mediums before I went to standup. This was the last medium I went to.
UG Digital Magazine: Your work ethic is impeccable. I look at all you do and I’m amazed. You spoke about Hotel Transylvania the last time we talked, and you’ve done so many thing since then. Considering you have a daughter in school, shows all the time, and everyday life happening around you, how do you balance and manage to tour regularly? You come here so much, even more than some others.
Luenell: Well, I like Cleveland. I used to know a whole bunch of lil’ gangster dudes from Cleveland back in the day (laughing). I had a lot of fun with some Cleveland cats. I actually have some artwork hanging in my home from a guy I knew in Cleveland back when I was in Jr. College. I can things because I have not a choice. I had to cancel a week of shows because I had to go to my daughter’s football game. She’s the captain of the dance team at San Diego State University. As I explain in my show, it’s very hard to be a mom and be going out on the road. People expect daddy to go out and bring home the bacon and do all this, but it’s very hard when you’re a mother to balance out mom duties, girlfriend and wife duties, and then comedic and entertainment duties as well. It’s taken it’s toll. It’s not been without it’s casualties, but I just have no choice but to do what I have to do. My work ethic comes in because if you get booked you have to go and do the show. You want to eat. A man that does not work does not eat, so I have to do it. I would love to be laying on the beaches of Jamaica with some hot Jamaican boy rubbing my feet and drinking Mai Tais with an umbrella in it, but I have to keep this kid in school, and I have lots of employees and responsibilities, so there it is.
UG Digital Magazine: I think it all goes to say that you inspire so many. There’s so many that want to do comedy, or even other things, and they’re scared, or in a place where they feel like they can’t, or it’s too late. But then they look at you and say she’s doing it and killing the game. She’s following her heart and enjoying it.
Luenell: Well, I do believe there are levels to success. I’m successful in as much as I work for myself. I have my own company, and I do what it is I love to do. I would like to have more. I strive to have my own television show. I need more money. You don’t see any machines get behind females and make a mega female comedy star, like the Kevins and the Katts. They just don’t do it. There isn’t a female you’ve seen that sells out an arena, flies in private planes, and lives that lavish and lush life. There’s a machine behind people when you see that, and the machines just don’t get behind females like that. I think I’m entering into an age where that ship may have sailed for me, because the way society is built up today, they don’t honor older celebrities. Some people call them legends, and some people just call them old. I think that now, between the ages of 16 and 27, it’s the prime peak, where sponsors and corporations want their people to be and aim their dollars. It’s sad because nobody would call Cicely Tyson old; they call her a legend. Nobody calls the Rolling Stones old; they call them legends. But if you’re a female and comedienne, when you get to be a certain age, unless you’re just killing the game, you pretty much get cast aside, and you’ll work yourself to death if something doesn’t really pop open, because believe you me, as much as I love my people out here in the world and love traveling, nobody wants to get older and still be on the road doing 28 shows per month. You don’t want to work that hard. You want to work smarter.
UG Digital Magazine: What projects do you have that you can speak on at this point?
Luenell: We are indeed working on a show for myself. It’s untitled right now; we haven’t even gotten a writer yet. We have been going in this direction. I’ve shot seven pilots, and they’ve all been turned down thus far, but I think if we keep throwing something against the wall, eventually something will stick.
UG Digital Magazine: I’m so happy to know that…
Luenell: Thank you. Since doing Hotel Transylvania, people have seen me on Shahs of Sunset, and I was on Hollywood Divas. I do lots of radio spots, things with Rickey Smiley and Tom Joyner.
UG Digital Magazine: You almost killed me when you fell on Hollywood Divas (laughing). I thought I was going to die.
Luenell: (laughs) Did you jump at the TV screen
UG Digital Magazine: I swear I did. But I loved the way you laughed it off in the end.
Luenell: I’ve got more cushion for the pushin’. A little girl may have broken her hip, but I’ve fallen down a lot of times in my days, sober and drunk. I was stone cold sober that day, but that girl Golden has very slippery floors in her new house, and she had one step down sunken living room, and it blended where you couldn’t really see it. I went down , and I knew Carlos King’s ass was going to use that clip. I knew it! Everybody said it cracked them up and they loved it. It made me more endearing anyway so hey, we fall down but we get up.
UG Digital Magazine: I love that you were part of it, again because it shows how respected you are. I get your sentiments on opportunities not being there for women, but I feel like that is changing for you, and because of you.
Luenell: Maybe, and I would hope so, because I’m apparently not going anywhere (laughing), and there’s nothing else I’m going to do but entertain for the rest of my life, and I think that I’ve become such a staple from the old Comic View days where people knew me then, to the social media days where people know me now. I think I have stayed relevant. I tried to do that, because if you don’t stay relevant with these youngsters, you are going to become a relic. I love my generation and people who have gone through things. That’s who I like to talk to, but the young folks enjoy me as well. I’m just glad I have a little crossover appeal, and that’s with Black, White, Latino, Asian, Persian, and all that.
UG Digital Magazine: That’s definitely huge. There’s so many people that love what you do. Now before I cut you off a few minutes ago, you were talking about your recent projects.
Luenell: I’ve done some more animated stuff. Every time you do a film, it’s like a year later when it comes out. I don’t know if everyone caught the film written and directed by Nick Cannon called School Dance. That was a really funny film. Something happened in the politics and it should have been released in the theaters, but it wasn’t. I believe people can catch it now on Netflix and that sort of thing. It had a lot of stars in it. Nick Cannon, Kevin Hart, Mike Epps, Lil Duval, George Lopez, Kristinia DeBarge, and it was a lot of fun. I had a good time doing that. If I’m not mistaking, I may be doing something else with Adam Sandler. I had an audition yesterday for “How to Get Away with Murder”. I’m still waiting to see if I got that, but I would love to get my arms around Viola Davis.
UG Digital Magazine: That would be so awesome. And going back to School Dance, a lot of people spoke really highly of it. Amber Rose was out promoting it pretty big.
Luenell: It was very funny.
UG Digital Magazine: I heard a lot of good things.
Luenell: I think it was hilarious.
UG Digital Magazine: It’s funny how some of the best project never make it out.
Luenell: Yes, but I’m going to try to make sure that mine get out there. Whenever that green light says go you’ll know about me, and I’ll make sure to give you and exclusive interview to let you know what’s going on.
UG Digital Magazine: How much longer is your tour?
Luenell: My “Easily Annoyed Comedy Tour”. It’s definitely going into 2017, because we’re working on a CD, which they are in the editing stages right now, and we’ll be selling it at my shows. So don’t get rid of your CD players people, just because you can download. We have brand new T-Shirts with the same blinged out and beautiful logos, but now they say “Easily Annoyed Comedy Tour” on the back. I’ll be selling those. We’ll try to put in a LIVE compilation DVD too. I’m just trying to give the people what they want.
UG Digital Magazine: I’ll definitely grab some shirt and likely give them away. I don’t know if I can walk around saying blinded out and beautiful (laughing).
Luenell: OK! I’ll have them baby!
UG Digital Magazine: I’m so proud of you for all you’re doing, but I’m also grateful for you always being willing to talk when you come to town. You’re breaking a lot of ground for people coming behind you, and even others who are already out there but looking for ways to build. I think you’re doing a lot for them.
Luenell: I appreciate you saying that and I hope it’s true. Sheryl Underwood used to always use the phrase “Each One, Teach One”. I say if you can get anything from me, do you and do your own style, and be in your own lane. I did study a lot of the greats when I was coming up. I didn’t try to get on stage every single time I went out. Sometimes, I just watched. You can learn a lot just from observing people. Just watch. I’m very comfortable on stage, and I think people see that. There’s a thing called trying too hard, and I don’t like people to look like they’re trying too hard.
UG Digital Magazine: Thank you again. Any type of final thoughts or words of encouragement?
Luenell: Yes, in this climate we’re living in, with the Trump movement, and Black Lives Matters, anytime you can, go out and release yourself with an adult beverage and some comedy. You should do it because laughter does the soul good, like medicine. We should all go out and try to heal ourselves, at least though that.