Out co­me­dian Samp­son McCormick

Side-split­ting laugh­ter at The Phillip Rush Cen­ter

GA Voice - - Front Page - By SHAN­NON HAMES

The in-de­mand co­me­dian brings the laughs, love to At­lanta

A South­ern light is shin­ing brightly in Los An­ge­les and his name is Samp­son McCormick. The 29-year-old gay co­me­dian from North Carolina is known for his com­edy, writ­ing and ac­tivism. On Jan. 31 at 7:30p.m., he will bring his standup rou­tine to the Phillip Rush Cen­ter. We asked Samp­son about his com­edy, his religious up­bring­ing and his film pro­ject ex­am­in­ing the chal­lenges that queer artists face in show busi­ness. His an­swers will sur­prise you.

You’re a co­me­dian, but you have a strong mes­sage about love in your com­edy and writ­ing. Where did that come from?

Samp­son: I have a book com­ing out in March, it’ll be my third. It’s called “Rights of Black Queens and Church Moth­ers.” It’s a book of es­says on kind­ness, love, queer­ness, re­li­gion and the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing a queer per­son of color. This world thrives on love. I worry that it’s

dis­ap­pear­ing and it’s a huge prob­lem. There is so much bad news we hear about—love is a miss­ing in­gre­di­ent. I be­lieve we need to have hap­pi­ness and hu­man con­nec­tion so I talk about it of­ten.

You also talk (some­times hi­lar­i­ously) about be­ing a queer per­son of color and grow­ing up in a religious home.

I grew up in an ex­tremely religious home. A lot of my standup ma­te­rial comes from that ex­treme up­bring­ing. If I’d have stayed in the South, I may have be­come a pas­tor. But now, my think­ing has evolved out­side of that tra­di­tional, religious un­der­stand­ing of God. I be­lieve that God is such a great en­tity that it can­not be con­fined to a book or a set of be­liefs or rules.

My mom was gung-ho religious. I joke about her fry­ing my chicken in anoint­ing oil. When you’re young, you live in fear of your par­ents. But there comes a point when you just have to reckon with the re­al­ity of be­ing who you are.

I was outed to my mom. At first, she went to the church. They wanted to pray over me and I would fight it. She would tell me how ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity causes all kinds of prob­lems like wars and storms. I al­ways wanted to be that girl, Storm, on the X-Men, so that was a bad ar­gu­ment for her to use on me. I just re­belled against the church thing.

Are you still re­belling?

I’ve got­ten bet­ter. I was in St. Louis last sum­mer per­form­ing. This guy came to my show and he had a poster board sign that said “You Will Burn In Hell” and he was just parad­ing through the au­di­ence with his sign. My brain went blank; I dropped my mi­cro­phone, jumped off the stage and snatched his sign. I took off run­ning with it. He tried to come back­stage and three big les­bians stopped him. I love les­bians! They have been my big­gest au­di­ence from day one.

Tell us about your film.

At the end of 2014, I was deal­ing with a lot of stuff. Show busi­ness is a hus­tle. You can do a TV show, but the next day, it’s back to the grind. You have to look for more gigs and keep your life go­ing. I was deal­ing with that and re­jec­tion in the busi­ness. Peo­ple would say, “Oh, you’re funny but you’re gay and that’s not mar­ketable.” I fell into a deep de­pres­sion and was con­sid­er­ing tak­ing my life. Thank­fully, I was able to reel it in.

Part of my cop­ing/heal­ing process was to sit down and ex­am­ine what I was fac­ing in my in­dus­try—how I was be­ing chal­lenged and how I was re­spond­ing. The film helped me to fo­cus on look­ing at some of the chal­lenges of queer artists. Now we have Em­pire, Or­ange Is The New Black, Scan­dal and some of those other shows that have more queer vis­i­bil­ity, but the ac­tors who play them aren’t gay. We still fail to get a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties. I wanted to have a con­ver­sa­tion about that. It’s called “A Tough Act to Fol­low” and will be out by early April.

“They wanted to pray over me and I would fight it. She would tell me how ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity causes all kinds of prob­lems like wars and storms. I al­ways wanted to be that girl, Storm, on the X-Men, so that was a bad ar­gu­ment for her to use on me.”

—Samp­son McCormick

We’re ex­cited that you’ve in­cluded At­lanta on your com­edy tour!

At­lanta is the home of the black gay male and one of my fa­vorite cities. If you’re black and gay, no mat­ter where you’re from, when you come to At­lanta, you’re com­ing home. I al­ways joke that when I’m com­ing to At­lanta, there aint nothin’ like those good, gay, At­lanta sissies! I look for­ward to see­ing all of my gays in At­lanta—we’re go­ing to have a great time.

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