“Sometimes the best way to approach even the most serious issue is with a smile.”
This is the motto that Atlanta-based comedian Kia McCall-Barnes has taken with her on her journey. She is a teacher at heart and has spent the last decade educating and entertaining an array of audiences, via standup comedy, youth outreach, and live theatrical performances.
Kia’s engagingly hilarious approach to life and current events, especially those concerning education, politics, and the LGBTQ community, has graced the stage of some of the most well-respected comedy clubs in the nation, including The Laughing Skull Lounge and the Atlanta Improv Club, where she opened for Luenell and Hope Flood.
Tagg: What led you to comedy?
Kia: I started doing comedy as an outlet for my ups and downs as an educator and a lesbian in an interracial relationship in the South. I was first encouraged by my fellow teachers to take the stage, and it was love at first laugh! I’ve been doing comedy for almost two years, and, even without the benefits, vacations, or holidays off, I’m happier than I’ve ever been!
Tagg: Who or what inspires you?
Kia: My mother, grandmother, sisters, mother-in-law, and college professors, all women who’ve excelled in the face of opposition and overwhelming obstacles inspire me. I’m also inspired by my desire to help LGBTQIA youth avoid some of the struggles and ignorance that I experienced as a teenager. Many may not think of comedians as activist or advocates, but, like Dick Gregory and Richard Pryor, I address real issues under the guise of humor.
Tagg: How would you describe yourself?
Kia: I am a free spirit! I love to learn, and the world is my classroom. However, you probably wouldn’t guess that about me because I’m almost always laughing, joking, and being silly.
Tagg: What are your favorite venues to perform?
Kia: I love performing at the Laughing Skull Lounge and My Sister’s Room in Atlanta. My overall favorite Atlanta stage is the Atlanta Comedy Theater because it’s LGBTQIA-owned and operated, and they always have diverse audiences.
Tagg: As a queer black woman, do you often face challenging situations in the comedy world?
Kia: I’ve absolutely faced challenges as an African-American and lesbian comedienne. I’ve been aggressively propositioned repeatedly after introducing my wife. Most guys still think they’re the first to suggest that the three of us hookup and make an “Oreo.” I’ve been told in front of many by a fellow female comedienne that God didn’t make women for women and that I need to accept that I’m not a man. I’ve been questioned about how we have sex, what toys we use, etc. by comedians I’d never met before.
Tagg: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Kia: I would like to be working in film, touring, and publishing more articles in 5 years. Until then, I’m working on a master plan to make these things happen.
Tagg: Where do you see the future of comedy?
Kia: In my opinion, comedy is going through a crazy transition right now. You have “internet comedians” who post skits, but have never done standup comedy. Many of these skits are plagiarized, in bad taste, or are poorly produced, but they go viral and create opportunity for their creators, so other comics mimic this. I think the overall quality of comedy has changed. Although I do believe that everyone should have the opportunity to pursue his or her dreams, I also believe it’s important to lay a solid foundation and respect artists and their intellectual property.
You have a show coming up in Philadelphia, what can guests expect from your show?
Kia: Guests can expect to laugh until their sides are sore! I simply talk about my life and experiences, which lesbians apparently relate to and find funny. Anyone who comes to a Kia Comedy show better be prepared to laugh, not only at me, but also at himself or herself too.
Tagg: Anything else you want us to know?
Kia: I appreciate every single individual who supports and believes in me. I was told over and over again to avoid the LGBTQ community and being labeled as a gay comedian, but you all have proven the naysayers wrong! My community shows me so much love, and I am grateful to be in a position where I’m able to stand and live as a role model and success story. Thank you!
To learn more about Kia Comedy and her upcoming shows, visit www.kiacomedy.com.