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VIDEO: Poppy Champlin to bring her Queer Queens of Qomedy to North Park

SAN DIEGO -- As a performer, you never forget your flops. Luckily, for lesbian comedian Poppy Champlin, only one from her stand-up career -- which has now lasted almost 30 years -- truly stands out.

That flop was many years ago in a Manchester, N.H. bar, where drag queen shows were the norm and mirrored walls were all the rage. She later recognized the audience just wasn't "invested" in her act; it just wasn't her demographic. "Sometimes a bad memory can be a good thing," she said.

She's much more in control these days, especially after the formation of her own PoppyCock Production company.

On Saturday, March 24, 2012, San Diegans will get the chance to be part of her more specific demographic, when PoppyCock Productions brings the Queer Queens of Qomedy to The Birch North Park Theater.

In her sixth year as both producer and emcee, the Queer Queens have toured all over the United States, but San Diego will be the show's first official gig on the West Coast.

Although it's certainly a tongue-twisting mouthful, Champlin is proud of the name and has no intentions of changing it, despite Showtime shaking its corporate fist, saying QQQ conflicts with their own "Queens of Comedy" name.

Clearly undeterred, what Champlin is open to changing is the QQQ line-up; which is done regularly. She is always switching it up, tapping into lesbian comedy's best-of-the-best for every gig and you can be sure the San Diego stop will be full of top-notch talent.

Previous queer comedians to wear the crown include: Vickie Shaw, Carol Leifer, Julie Goldman, Michele Balan, Jessica Kirson, Karen Ripley, Mimi Gonzalez , Jenny McNulty, Karen Williams, Dana Goldberg, Bridget McManus, Sandra Valls, Erin Foley, Dana Eagle, Roxanna Ward, Marga Gomez, Lisa Koch, and Barb Neligan.

Later this month, San Diego attendees not only get to see the formidable Champlin, but also Fortune Feimster, whose star has skyrocketed ever since she joined the Chelsea Lately show as a staff writer and panelist; as well as international headliner Gina Yashere, the British comedian of Nigerian descent who boasts a regular comedic appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno as a "surly psychic."

Talent that is the belly-busting best

"This is a two hour show, guaranteed for laughter that is medicine," Champlin recently explained to San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. "It will be one of the best nights of your life."

Champlin started her own career back in the early '80's, after winning 1st runner up at a Joan Rivers impersonation contest in her home state of Rhode Island.

Since then, she's played all over the country, and after coming out on stage at the Improv in 2000, she got her first gig in Vegas and also became a staple at LGBT events, lesbian cruises and other vacation destinations around the world.

After living the Los Angeles lifestyle for many years, Champlin met a woman she fancied during a recent gig in P-Town and has since migrated back to her native Rhode island, where she now owns "a house in the woods."

If you have never seen her perform, you are in for a belly-busting treat.

Champlin's routine is usually off-the-chart scandalous and always very physical, as she never seems to stay still. She can often be found pacing back and forth and flailing her arms to further enunciate her commentary.

She loves to interact with her audience, and like most comedians, often draws some of her routine from the banter; but Champlin sets the bar extra high, with her rapid-fire responses and ad-libbing. At some shows the audience literally never stops laughing; barely catching their breath from the last joke, before the next one barrels in and brings them to tears.

One of her recent routines included this tawdry bit: "Lesbians are like stamps, once you lick 'em, they stick." There is plenty more where that came from.

As host for the San Diego Queer Queens of Qomedy, she will have a monologue that threads throughout the night and also sing a couple songs for the audience.

"I always try to start and end with a song," she said. "I have a powerful, talented voice and I don't use it enough." Fans will have to decide whether she has her tongue firmly planted in her cheek for that comment, or not.

After the show there will be a "Meet & Greet" where the comedians will be signing tee-shirts, posters, DVDs and CDs. So bring extra cash to participate.

"There is no booze [allowed inside], so do your drinking beforehand," Champlin advised.

Giving back to the community

Since starting the Queer Queens of Qomedy, Champlin has made sure each event had a benefactor, where 10% of ticket sales go to a non-profit.

This year, she has teamed with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) as the official 2012 sponsor. The idea came to her after participating in an HRC event last year.

"Sponsors come and go," she said. "But with money going to HRC, we can laugh while we fight for our rights."

According to the HRC mission statement on their website:

HRC seeks to improve the lives of LGBT Americans by advocating for equal rights and benefits in the workplace, ensuring families are treated equally under the law and increasing public support among all Americans through innovative advocacy, education and outreach programs. HRC works to secure equal rights for LGBT individuals and families at the federal and state levels by lobbying elected officials, mobilizing grassroots supporters, educating Americans, investing strategically to elect fair-minded officials and partnering with other LGBT organizations.

For more information about San Diego's local HRC Chapter, visit their Facebook page.

Win tickets to the March 24 show

Champlin has decided to have an exclusive contest for this San Diego show, offering local fans an opportunity to not only gain free admission, but to be a part of her comedic routine.

All you have to do is come up with something funny about San Diego -- whether that is about its culture, its history or its people, or even a recent yarn found in current events -- and send it directly to Champlin at: poppychamplin@att.net

She will respond to everyone who writes her, but if she chooses your input, she will create a comedy routine around it and announce your name on stage at the North Park Theater on March 24th.

You will also get free admission to the Queer Queens of Qomedy that night.

So put those comedic thinking caps on and come up with something funny about San Diego that she can use in her act!

Where to purchase tickets for the March 24 show

"These [QQQ] shows are Class A entertainment," Champlin said. "If you can't get to Olivia or The Dinah to see this level of comedy, these shows are so worth the money."

The Queer Queens of Qomedy, presented by PoppyCock Productions and sponsored by HRC, will perform at the Birch North Park Theater on Saturday, March 24, 2012, beginning at 8 pm.

The Birch is located at 2891 University Ave, in the North Park community of San Diego.

To get tickets, visit the The Birch North Park Theater website or call the Box Office at (619) 239-8836, ext 3.

Ticket prices are as follows:

  • VIP: (50 seats in first few rows -- be ready to be part of her routine!) $35
  • General Admission: $25
  • Discounts are available: for Seniors, Students and Military (active, reserve and retired - must show ID at Will Call) -- $30 for VIP and $20 for GA.

Note: All tickets are subject to a $2.00 "Birch North Park Theater Restoration" fee. If you wish to have them mailed, there is a $1.50 fee.

Tickets are also available at the door.

Although Champlin has a Facebook page and a Twitter account, she's not very active on social media; something that might change should her fan base put a little pressure on her. So make sure you let Poppy know you plan to attend by liking her Facebook page and posting a message on her wall, or by following her on Twitter and sending her a tweet.

She needs to get a jump start on her social media, so why shouldn't it be her San Diego fans who make that happen??

Check out an excerpt from a recent Chicago performance of the Queer Queens of Qomedy, with Poppy as emcee (note: contains foul language):

Stay tuned, as SDGLN will also feature Fortune Feimster and QQQ headliner, Gina Yashere in the coming weeks leading up to the show.

Photos: Top left: Poppy on stage at Gotham Night Club, NYC; middle: Poppy in her Joan Rivers impersonation; bottom: Poppy flanked by Michele Balan and Lisa Koch. All photos courtesy Poppy Champlin