By Megan Wadding, Sept. 11, 2014.
The Queer Queens of Qomedy, an all-lesbian, national comedy tour, is produced and hosted by internationally known comedienne Poppy Champlin. The tour features the “funniest, edgiest, talented and most outrageous” lesbian comediennes from around the country, who performed their own sets alongside Champlin in various cities each year.
Champlin, a Rhode Island native who has been doing stand-up since 1982, created the show back in 2005 as a means to book bigger venues and bigger shows, allowing it to continually grow.
This year’s show, which features Sandra Valls, Scout Durwood and special guest Anthony Desamito, hits The Tempe Improv Sept. 18. And, here are our top 10 reasons not to miss it:
1. Champlin brings new lesbian comediennes, as well as fan favorites to the stage.
Champlin prides herself on always bringing a mix of fresh faces and veteran talent to the Queer Queens of Qomedy shows.
“I do try to choose different comediennes every year, however [Valls] was on last time and she’s on it again this time. That’s kind of a first for me, but I’ve had great requests for her.”
Comediennes on the tour in the past have included Fortune Feimster, Vickie Shaw, Bridget McManus, Julie Goldman, Karen Williams and more.
2. She does song parodies.
Champlin said she is a “very musically-inclined person,” who has always liked singing. She incorporates at least three song parodies, as well as original songs, into her set and has recently added a song she sings to the tune of “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music.
“I just felt that gay people in particular like music in their entertainment, so music is a part of my show,” she said. “I try to keep creating new parody songs. Right now I’ve been working on a Lady Gaga one. It’s fun.”
3. She does birdcalls.
Another unique part of Champlin’s set is her hilarious birdcall imitations. Champlin said she began honing her talent back in 2000, and asking the audience for specific requests has grown into an integral part of her show.
“People don’t know how I do it and I can’t really explain it,” she said. “I have certain ones that I can do. I’ve added a few new birdcalls since last year — I learned to do the loon when I was skiing in Rhode Island. I can replicate their notes.”
4. She’s not afraid to tackle important issues.
During her set, Champlin likes to bring up current topics, especially hot-button issues in the state where she is performing, and turn these serious things into side-splitting comedy.
“I find out what the politics are in the city that I’m going to before I head there, and generally I’ll do a little bit on what’s going on locally,” she said. “Basically, what I’m talking about right now in my shows is women’s rights, as far as reproductive rights around the country — especially in Texas.”
5. Her co-comediennes are always great.
Along with Valls, Champlin has added Durwood, a singer and comedienne who has never been on the QQQ tour before.
“I added Scout Durwood this year,” she said. “She plays the ukulele and she’s young and smart. She is going to be good; people are going to like her. [Valls] will have a whole new show for this year. She’s popular in Arizona already.”
6. She wants to expand her audience base to include the boys.
Champlin decided to change up the tour, which is usually a trio of lesbian queens, and add a king into the mix for her Arizona show.
“I haven’t put on a lot of gay men in the show, but I do put on guest spots once in a while,” she said. “I’ve added Anthony Desamito, because he is really good. I want to try to encourage gay men to come out and see the show.”
7. She was inspired by Robin Williams at the beginning of her career.
Like many comedians getting their careers started in the 20th century, Champlin idolized Williams.
“When I was first starting, Robin Williams was kind of a goal,” she recalled. “Working on stage, I wanted to be that quick and improvisationally able to turn on a dime and jump around and have it be really funny for the audience to watch. It was painful to hear of his demise.”
8. The tour always comes to Arizona and is always charitable.
Ahead of her tour’s third time in Arizona, Champlin made donations to multiple valley organizations, including Phoenix House.
9. She always hangs out after the show to meet with fans.
Champlin said she very much enjoys talking to the show attendees, and added that they always seem appreciative.
“I think people like the music, the singing, and they like the quality of comediennes that I bring,” she said. “They seem excited to have a lesbian and gay content to the show in their hometown.”
Champlin, Valls and Durwood will stay after the Tempe show to chat, sign autographs and sell merchandise.
10. She’s hilarious and has worked with many of the best comics in the country.
Champlin has opened for Ray Romano, Bill Maher, Rosie O’Donnell, Denis Leary and Bill Hicks (to name a few). She has had comedy specials on both Logo and Showtime and she was a panelist on Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen. Champlin is also a regular on Olivia cruises.
Queer Queens of Qomedy
930 E. University Drive, Tempe
7:30 p.m. Sept. 18