One of the few bright spots to come out of the 2020 pandemic was Leslie Jordan's discovery of Instagram as a new venue for his warmly hilarious stories. How Y'all Doing? gives the diminutive Emmy-winning actor and comedian a chance to share more endearing, funny and uplifting tales from his life. Growing up flamboyantly gay in Chattanooga, Tenn., in the early 1960s wasn't easy. "I had fallen out of the womb into my mother's high heels," he writes. But being able to make others laugh earned him protection from bullies.
Although Jordan briefly touches on his earlier drug and alcohol addictions (and the 12-step program that saved him), most of these tales are upbeat, outrageous and very funny. "My mind is like a bad neighborhood," he writes. "Honey, you do not want to go up there alone." For his drag debut, he chose the name Miss Baby Wipes. All of his high school crushes were on straight guys. "And this went on for forty years," he writes. "FORTY YEARS. Kinda painful in retrospect." There's not a lot of Will & Grace stories (those were in his first book, My Trip Down the Pink Carpet) but there's plenty of show biz tales. He recalls his spontaneous cartwheel in the movie The Help; recording a gospel song with his idol Dolly Parton; playing Truman Capote in a Broadway-bound play; and how meeting Carrie Fisher won his mother a phone call from Debbie Reynolds.
Jordan is a national treasure and How Y'all Doing? is the feel-good read of the year. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant