For the first time ever, an openly gay African-American male comedian is headlining a show at the historic Howard Theatre. Originally established in 1910, the Howard Theatre has been home to some of the most inspirational and pivotal leaders in the African-American community. Last year, Wanda Sykes became the first openly gay female comedienne to headline at the theatre. This year Sampson McCormick, who has been in the comedy business for over 11 years, will even the scales on Tuesday, August 27 for his show “That B* Better Be Funny”.
From sexuality to religion to the Trayvon Martin verdict, “Ain’t nothin’ sacred,” says McCormick. “I address the issue of the day. Of course sexuality is an issue. Even though we are progressing on those issues, people still are afraid to come out,” says McCormick, who also serves as a LGBT writer and community activist.
His two books, “Taboo Village: A Perspective on Being Gay in Black America” and “Ebonic Faggotry” address these and other important issues in the African-American community. Audience members can expect to be entertained thoroughly as McCormick draws upon his own life experiences and brings attention to important issues regarding race, culture, and sexuality in Black America.
Performing alongside Sampson is comedienne and software developer Chelsea Shorte, a native of Richmond, Virginia.
“I’m one of the few nerds in the world that can actually talk to people,” Shorte laughs. For her comedy, she draws upon her everyday life experiences, ensuring that audience members are never the focal point of a joke. “No one should feel victimized or singled out for coming to my show. Any and all people can feel comfortable,” says Shorte.
For both McCormick and Shorte, being openly gay on stage comes with its challenges. “There’s no hiding it,” asserts Shorte. “I walk around out. It’s a huge part of my material because it is my life.”
McCormick has lost several jobs and opportunities the day he came out. “A lot of people said they weren’t interested in having a gay comedian on the show,” he says. “I lost a lot of gigs. A lot of people put me in shows, read my bio, and took me out.”
As more venues like the Howard Theatre continue to provide an inclusive place for artists like McCormick and Shorte, perhaps the community will, inevitably, become more accepting of LGBT entertainers.
To purchase tickets to “That B*tch Better Be Funny” or for more information, click here. For laughs outside of the theatre, follow these artists on Twitter at @ChikaChels and @OfficialSampson