Comedienne Lahna Turner will be performing Saturday night at Chubby'z in Port Charlotte, FL, a club that offers no cover comedy every Saturday. Lahna was married to another comedian, Ralphie May, and we discussed their pending divorce, writing tactics, and how she handles her career as a mother. She released an hour comedy special, is working on a parody movie that she wrote.
Author Marisa Williams: How did you first get started with movies and comedy?
Comedienne Lahna Turner: I started in Comedy. I went to play funny songs. I played guitar since second grade, but I started writing funny songs in college. I never thought I’d be a comedian. I wandered into a coffee shop, played three funny songs and started working after that.
My father used to play guitar. He would play songs that were funny, play songs and make them funny, because he played so bad, but as a child would make me laugh. He would be horrified to learn he started my career in comedy.
Marisa: Did you parents approve of you choosing comedy as a career?
Lahna: When I first started, I think they were really hoping it was a phase. They were not thrilled early on, but now, I think, they’re proud. They live in the area, so while I’m here, the kids get to visit grandma and grandpa.
Marisa: Where do your parents live in Florida, and what do you like to do while you’re in Florida?
Lahna: My parents live in Sarasota. They retired here, and it’s been probably at least ten years. I’ve been coming to Florida my whole life. My grandmother lived in Fort Lauderdale and Sarasota before she passed. Because I have young kids, I love the Mote aquarium, love the manatees; it’s really nice. We lived here for a little while, and we always go to Long Boat Key, as well as Clearwater. They have the dolphin aquarium; the Dolphin Tale dolphin is here. I love doing that with kids. I’m working with one of my very good friends, Joey G, shooting a video project in this area. We’re working on a movie, shooting, but we’re still trying to get some of our funding in place. Florida is kind of a home away from home now. Joey G lives just south of Venice.
Marisa Is being in comedy different for a female than a male?
Lahna: There’s probably some benefits to being female in comedy now, but that was not the case when I started. But, there’s more shows to jump on now, as there’s been successful women in past few years. Not when I started as much, but people don’t care anymore. If anyone still cares what gender you are, that’s their problem at this point. I don’t think womanhood has taken anything away. In contrast, everything is easier as a man: stand up and pee, carrying a baby; it’s easier not to be a woman. I have two children, and that is a blessing, but it’s harder to perpetuate a career because of them. That’s a choice though; I wouldn’t sacrifice it. Being a woman in comedy shouldn’t stop you. It’s all the plates we have to juggle as women. Guys don’t have that same level of juggling. I have to juggle three people’s lives.
Marisa: What is your writing process like for standup versus for a movie?
Lahna: It all starts with creative mud, like an unformed ball you carve into it. With songs, I write lyrics and come up with music to go with the lyrics. Script is a more lengthy process. It takes time to fill in dialogue, but you kinda have an idea where it’s going. As far as standup, when I’m on stage, some comes up organically. If I have an idea, I’ll try it out on stage and see how it goes; I carve into it in front of an audience. First time I try a song, it’s very loose, then I tighten it up.
I feel like creatively, emotionally, mentally, I’m spinning a lot of plates or saucers. Plate spinning with one kid, then the other kid, then standup; I can’t let one drop. It’s hard to keep them all going. Sometimes, there’s a big script and a little ditty.
Marisa: Tell me more about the movie you wrote that is slated for production this summer?
Lahna: The movie with Joey for summer, script I wrote, and all summer I’ll being doing songs. Roman Arnold, formerly of Warner Brothers records, he helped me out, as I was going to shoot videos. Are you familiar with Beyonce’s “Lemonade?” It’s an hour and a half long production, a heartfelt piece of work. I had an emotional and tumultuous year in own relationship, and the songs dealt with the tremendous loss from that. It’s some of most powerful comedy. I’m attempting to shoot a mini-movie, putting videos together named “Limeade,” a comedy version. That’s what I’m shooting this summer.
Marisa: You were cast to play a zombie rock star in “Nuclear Zombies from Area 51?”
Lahna: My friend is shooting that film. There’s no start date yet, but I’m also in another that’s supposed to be shot in July or August.
Marisa: Where can people find your hour special “So… I wrote a song about it?”
Lahna: Right now, it’s on Amazon, iTunes, and on Hulu, but they’ve been reorganizing, so it’s not downloadable right now, but it will be back up soon. There’s different songs on special than on the new project, maybe one or two might be the same.
Marisa: Tell me about the “Inside Out: Riley Grows Up” parody.
Lahna: I saw the movie. My friend plays Bingbong, so we started riffing on it. I loved the movie, but we were laughing at what would happen if she really grew up. Two weeks later, we shot the sketch. It came out really good, as far as effects, and I love how the characters look in it. On my Youtube page (https://www.youtube.com/user/LahnaTurnerVideos ), there’a a bunch of videos on there.
Marisa: Being married to Ralphie May, was it hard with two comedians in house?
Lahna: I adore him, supported his career, and I continued to work on my career, but it was not my main focus. He came first, and we did our best to keep it on the rails. I loved him dearly. We would talk a bit, share joke ideas, talk comedy a lot. That was a big part of our life. It worked in our favor. We could come on road with him, be a family on the road, and it was a great joy to do that.
Marisa: What do you have coming up that we have not talked about?
Lahna: My next big project is in September. My podcast is raunchy, but a lot of fun. You don’t want to play it in a car with kids.
Marisa: Would you ever consider dating another comedian?
Lahna: You never know what the future holds. I never intended to date a comic. He was very overweight, but we ended up dating. You never know who you’re going to meet. Comics are pretty damaged. Everyone is damaged, it’s just a matter of how much so. I love my comic friends.
Marisa: How old are your kids, and how do you handle them with your career?
Lahna: My boy will be seven, August May, and April May is eight. I mostly, when I do standup is at night, so I find a baby sitter. There’s not a ton of roadwork this year. I try to keep the kids balanced. I am a single mom now. It’s a juggling act. If doing a movie, I don’t have as much time, but it’s a balance. Any mom is going to relate. You’re juggling. Doesn’t matter what it is. Let’s just say, I don’t get much sleep.
Marisa: Have they shown any interest in comedy yet?
Lahna: They had a few videos, and I’ve had them do stuff before, but I’m not interested in being a stage mom. They can do whatever they want with their lives. Hopefully, they’re not jacked up enough to be comics. Whatever they want to do will be fine though.
Marisa: What kind of activities are they into?
Lahna: I’m taking them to China next month. They’ve been learning Mandarin. We’re going up there on a trip through their schools. We’re looking forward to that. They also enjoy tennis, swimming, gymnastics... My son is on the baseball team. I’m proud, ya know? My son is really into, I have a punching bag, so he’s been learning how to use boxing gloves, and he loves that. We’re normal. Just two crazy parents. Just one parent now.
Marisa: What do you have to have with you when you are on the road, and do you have any rituals before going on stage?
Lahna: Obviously, I bring my guitar and my iPad. There’s no ritual before getting on stage. I strum through songs, go through them in my head. If I am doing something different, I write it down before getting on stage.
Marisa: Do you have any advice for musicians starting out?
Lahna: For comedy, doesn’t matter if you’re Chris Rock or anyone else, they all start at the same place: open mic night. Go all the time, and do it for many, many years. As far as being in movies, I’ve yet to produce a full movie; I’m still working on that - this summer should be my first one. As far as advice, nowadays, equipment and things are accessible; people shoot movies on their phones. No matter what you want to do, even making ice cream, no matter what you want to do, there is a way to do it, you just gotta want it bad enough.
Marisa: Do you tend to surround yourself with creative people?
Lahna: I’m a very lucky person. I’ve lived a charmed life. I live in Rural Canyon, which is famous for creative energy. There’s a lot of smart, creative people. I’m surrounded by a lot of interesting folks. There are several comedians that live in my neighborhood.
Marisa: Where are you from originally?
Lahna: I was born in Canada, right across Port Huron, Michigan, then we moved to Toronto, Canada, but I was raised in Texas. Growing up, I would say, “howdy, eh.” I was little when we left Canada, so my career started in Houston. I remember driving over to the States as a kid, seeing the big tire in Detroit.
Marisa: Anything we did not touch on? Any links people should check out?
Lahna: The show at Chubby’s will be a lot of fun, really awesome. It’s just great to be here, and this is my second time here, so hopefully there will be a good turnout. Check out my podcast, the Perfect 10 podcast, and I am @lahnaturner on social media. I’m very active on Twitter. I had 20,000 followers this week, so I’m pretty excited about that.
I also wanted to mention, I don’t know if you follow the tabloids, but some sources reported that I was the one that filed for divorce, and that is not right. He was hospitalized with a pulmonary embolism in Tampa a while back, and he never really fully recovered from that. It’s been really hard, but I responded to him filing. It’s what he wanted to do. It’s kinda sad, and it sucks for the kids. That’s the worst. The pain of going through what I’ve been through, it’s not the worst, but I wrote some of the best standup as a result of it. When life gives you lime, you make “Limeade.” That’s going to be really, really cool. I can’t wait to see it all come together.
As far as the kids, for the first two weeks of summer, they’re doing what they did last time. The first week is at the local YMCA camp, and they have two weeks of Circus camp. This one is in downtown Sarasota. Last year, my daughter learned how to tight rope walk, and my son learned to balance on a ball and hula hoop. It’s pretty amazing what they did.
For more information on Lahna Turner, visit www.lahnaturner.com, or follow her on twitter @LahnaTurner. Joey G can also be followed on twitter @JfourG.