A decade into a successful practice as a trial attorney, Karen Morgan never expected to begin a career in comedy.
But nearly 20 years after taking that leap, there she was headlining a standup show in Winterville’s Marigold Auditorium.
An Athens native who now lives in Maine, Morgan’s excitement about performing at home and the crowd’s familiarity with her work created an infectious energy. She commanded the stage with the striking presence that typically accompanies seasoned performers such as herself.
For the next hour, the laughter didn’t stop.
Afterward, Morgan BFA ’86 hung around the lobby of the historic theater for a casual meet and greet, chatting with fans and posing for group photos.
My favorite part of the process is finding a shared experience with human beings and then showing them that it can be funny, and it’s OK to laugh at it.” — Karen Morgan BFA ’86
Since embarking into comedy, she’s appeared on live television and Sirius XM Radio and has released two comedy specials.
With influences like Brian Regan and Jim Gaffigan, her comedic style is clean and relatable for her audience, covering everything from family life and generational gaps to her experience as a Southerner living in New England.
“My favorite part of the process is finding a shared experience with human beings and then showing them that it can be funny, and it’s OK to laugh at it,” says Morgan.
It was only when Morgan took a break from private practice to raise her three children that she joined a local comedy workshop on a whim.
At the end of the workshop, Morgan’s teacher sent her tape into Nickelodeon’s Search for the Funniest Mom in America. Before she knew it, Morgan became one of seven finalists out of over 1,000 applicants nationwide and officially launched her accidental career in stand-up.
“I’ve always had a good sense of humor and enjoyed funny things, and so it just sort of turned into another career that I wasn’t expecting,” Morgan says.
She was supposed to go on tour after the release of her first special, Go Dawgs!, in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic ground those plans to a halt.
So Morgan shifted. She stayed connected with her audience by posting original content on her social media accounts. She also started her own podcast, The Purple Bike, about nostalgia from growing up in the ’70s and ’80s.
The material from the podcast inspired her second Drybar Comedy Special, Rub Some Dirt On It.
Morgan returns to Athens again in October. She plans to record the set for her new album but is really just looking forward to interacting with her audience.
“That’s why I still do this and why I’ll probably keep doing this forever,” she says. “Because it’s a human connection with people, which you don’t get if you’re just making funny voiceover videos, you know?”