Leighann Lord is a standup comedian from Jamaica Queens, who was the winner of the 2019 Humanist Arts Award. She is an author of several books, including Real Women Do It Standing Up and Dict Jokes. She hosts a podcast called People with Parents, and you can find her at various skeptic conferences as speaker and emcee. She will be the emcee for CSICon in October 2019 in Las Vegas. Lord was also the cohost with Neil deGrasse Tyson of the podcast Star Talk. Her website is veryfunnylady.com.
Susan Gerbic: Hello there, Leighann. Nice to talk with you again. I first met you in the Skeptic Track at Dragon Con 2018. You also were in the parade as the Civil Rights Leader Ida B. Wells. That was great fun, and I loved to hear the children along the parade route yell out to the characters walking in the skeptic track group. I’m excited to see you will be the CSICon emcee this year.
Leighann Lord: I’m excited to be at CSICon as well. It was very flattering to be recommended by George Hrab. It’s a great feeling to be supported and endorsed by one of your peers.
Gerbic: I understand that you are a giant sci-fi nerd. I love the photograph I took of you at Dragon Con wearing the Star Wars #1 Fan shirt that featured the Star Trek Starship Enterprise. That shirt probably gets you some raised eyebrows. What are your biggest sci-fi influences?
Lord: First and foremost, I’m a Star Trek fan—in all its incarnations, my favorite being Star Trek: Next Generation and now Star Trek: Discovery. I’m also a big fan of Frank Herbert’s Dune.
Gerbic: You are a published author of Real Women Do It Standing Up, which is an autobiography I suppose. You have several books that are pure comedy, such as ALTernate DEFinitions for Words You’ve Probably Never Heard of But Will Definitely Never Forget. Plus, you’ve written several comedic essays. You have a Journalism and Creative Writing degree I see. Looks like you are putting it to work. They all look like fun reads.
Lord: Thank you! I think so. What’s fun for me is when after a show, someone picks up Dict Jokes, flips through it and starts giggling. I love that! I like to think of both books (Dict Jokes and Real Women) as great bathroom reads. Reading and laughing helps… um… move things along.
Gerbic: I need to ask about the Star Talk podcast with Neil deGrasse Tyson. How did you get that gig? And what was it like to work with NDT?
Lord: Neil was great to work with. I got an email from one of his producers who thought I’d be good for the show. Lucky for me, it didn’t end up in my spam folder.
Gerbic: This will be your first CSICon. I’ve put together an article with tips to share called CSICon 101. This won’t be your first skeptic conference, as you have attended and emceed many, including NECSS. What tips would you give to first time attendees?
Lord: My Con advice is get out and meet and talk to people. This is the place to have in depth, high level conversations that you may not ordinarily have an opportunity to engage in.
Gerbic: CSICon has quite a lineup this year—whose talk are you looking forward to?
Lord: That’s a hard question to answer. It’s always great to see Julia (Sweeney) and John (de Lancie) but as the emcee, I’ll get to hear, enjoy, and learn from almost everybody.
Gerbic: Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule, Leighann, to talk to me today. I’m looking forward to seeing you this October. Don’t forget there is a 1950s themed Halloween party on Saturday night.
Lord: Yeah… um… The 1950s? Given the reality of African Americans in the 1950s, I think I’ll pass.