On Sunday, May 17, the Queer Queens of Qomedy return to the D.C. Metro area to a new venue, Jammin Java, in Vienna, Virginia. Founder Poppy Champlin will perform with comic icon Karen Williams.
This is the 10th anniversary year of the “Qomedy” tour. Champlin has partnered with many of the best queer comics of the decade on the tour. She began it as a way to perform with her friends and other comics she admired. Over the years, she has booked some big names, some up and comers, and everyone in between, and she has toured all over the country. Champlin says, “I don’t have a formula. I’m doing it with my friends and people I like to work with.” This works because she puts the whole thing together, producing it and promoting it herself.
This show will not only feature Champlin, but she has also bringing along funny lady Karen Williams. Champlin says, “She’s been doing this longer than I have. She’s an icon.” She’s excited to work with Williams, whose comedy touches on being an African-American and queer. As Champlin says, this show is “brought to you in black and white.” Beyond the jokes, she just loves being onstage with a friend.
She is also looking forward to returning to D.C. “I like seeing different parts of the country, but I think I could live here. It’s just country enough and just city enough.”
She was not always a queer queen. In the ’90s, she tried to make it as a comic in the closet. She’d flirt with male producers and switch pronouns onstage and hated it. She says, “I enjoy talking about relationships and character defects and how I can’t commit. I like talking about the human condition and how our brains sabotage us.” She finally came out in 2000 at the Hollywood Improv. The owner loved the set and invited her to Las Vegas. She bemoans the fear that kept her back and wonders where she’d be if she could have been braver faster.
Authenticity has been an important lesson. She says her worst shows always happen when she’s trying to impress someone. “The audience may not know it’s not one of your best, but I know. If I’m not riding the spark of magic and spontaneity, then I screw it up.”
By this time in her career, she’s confident in her comedy and her sexuality most of the time. “I only screw up when I don’t follow my own rules.”
What are the rules that keep her off the straight and narrow? “Work with people you love and do what you want. When you’re there for your audience and it’s fresh and alive, then you’re working the magic.”
Poppy Champlin and Karen Williams, the Queer Queens of Qomedy will perform May 17, 2015 at Java Jammin – 227 Maple Ave E Vienna, VA 22180 Vienna, VA. Purchase tickets here.