The Queer Queens of Comedy will be holding court in South Florida this week with performances in Hollywood, Miami and West Palm Beach.
Outrageous lesbian comedians Poppy Champlin, Vickie Shaw and Barb Neligan will have audiences laughing for equality, thanks to a new partnership with the Human Rights Campaign.
Producer Champlin has been organizing “Queer Queens” tours for six years.
“The whole thing got started because I wanted to fill some big rooms, but my name wasn’t big enough, so I got the best of the lesbian comedians on the circuit….that weren’t Kate Clinton or Suzanne Westenhoefer,” she admits with a chuckle. “I choose from my friends who I work with and respect their work.”
For this Southern tour of Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida, Champlin tapped Texan Shaw and Tennessean Neligan.
Shaw has been seen on Comedy Central, her own Logo TV special, and is a favorite entertainer on Olivia Cruises. A mother and grandmother, Shaw is quick to boast, “I’m from Texas, where the speed limit is a suggestion.”
Neligan, the newest Queen, was formerly a writer for CMT network and likes to tell stories about growing up gay in a traditional Irish family in the Deep South. She’s also been known to include a couple musical selections on her banjo because, “I’m from Nashville. It’s the law!”
A Yankee who grew up in Rhode Island, Champlin knew she would stick out like a sore thumb on a southern tour.
“It not that Florida IS the South, but it kinda is below the South, so I’m bringing my friends. You don’t want to bring too many Yankees and get people nervous,” she says.
But Champlin is not just a Yankee, she also claims to be a Pilgrim—a direct descendent of Richard Warren, who made the famous journey aboard the Mayflower—and isn’t afraid to point out just how gay they really were.
“They landed in Provincetown, after all,” she jokes. “And look at those outfits, it’s like ‘Queer Eye for the Colonial Guy’. I think they wore all that black because it is slimming.”
Camplin is particularly excited about her new relationship with HRC: “We’re fighting for our rights and laughing at the same time. I especially enjoy that component of the show.”
Times have certainly changed, the comedian points out. When she first took the stage in 1982, gay comics—and lesbians, in particular—were trailblazers. Gay-friendly venues were far and few between and audiences didn’t know how to react.
“They were rude, misbehaved, shouted things out and you had to deal with it over and over,” she recalls.
While Champlin watched many gay male and straight female comics wither under the assault, audiences soon learned not to mess with funny lesbians.
“We’re tough,” she insists, but in the end, the jokes rule. Champlin is thankful for a great sense of humor.
“I think my brain is wired to think ‘funny’ on whatever I see. I have a cartoon for a brain, it always finds the funny. I’m fortunate that way,” she concludes.
Queer Queens of Comedy
Poppy Champlin, Vickie Shaw and Barb Neligan
April 8, Fort Lauderdale Improv, Hollywood
April 9, Miami Improv, Miami
April 10, Palm Beach Improv, West Palm Beach
For more information and showtimes, go to QueerQueensofComedy.com