It’s natural to root for the home towner, especially when they’re good at what they do. South County-born comedian Poppy Champlin cut her teeth at Chicago’s famous Second City, has opened for the likes of Ray Romano and Denis Leary, and has been featured in television specials (including HBO and Showtime). Her career has taken her to NY and Hollywood and back, and the once-again-Rhody will be bringing her sharp, biting style to the Greenwich Odeum on April 18.
A native of South County, Poppy had an inkling early on of where she could go. “I was a funny kid – I think,” she says. “I do know that I was able to say the right thing at the right time to make all the other kids laugh and I mean the big kids and the adults. I knew I liked that – a lot. It made me significant.”
She attended South Kingstown High and played basketball for URI, where an opportunity set her on her path. “In college after playing basketball for two years on the WRAMS team – who by the way are having a stellar season this year – I decided it was time to decide what my major would be,” she says. “I decided to go back to the theatre. I went and they found out I had this hidden talent of making people laugh. So Judith Swift cast me as a stand up fish and I delivered my fish schtick in a cabaret called Oceanitcs, and I was a hit.”
After spending time being, as she says, chewed out in New York, she temporarily came back to RI but ultimately embarked to Chicago’s Second City. This move proved to be the difference in her life. Even though she struggled with improv she found herself working beside would-be major stars. “I found it difficult and don’t think I was all that good but others I watched on main stage were really good,” she says. “Bonnie Hunt, Michael Myers, Joe Liss, Kevin McCauley – I watched Chris Farley many nights at Second City.”
Improv may not have come naturally to her, but it wasn’t long before she found her niche. Honing her craft in local clubs, she performed at wellknown venues such as the Improv, The Funny Firm, Zanies and Catch a Rising Star. Television opportunities followed.
“I got on Oprah,” she says. “I got on Rosie O’Donnel’s show on VH-1. I won America’s Funniest Real Woman on the Joan Rivers Show – I loved Chicago.” She’s also written for FOX’s Show Me the Funny, has her own Showtime special, Pride: the Gay and Lesbian Comedy Slam (available on Netflix) and is featured on HBO’s All Aboard Rosie’s Family Cruise. She even created a pilot called News You Can’t Use, a comedy series she envisioned as Tracey Ullman doing the news. Her comedy troupe, The Queer Queens of Qomedy, is a successful touring act and she has performed before 25,000 people at Wrigley Field for the Gay Games.
Upon inheriting her father’s place and meeting the woman of her dreams in New York, she decided to move back to the East Coast in 2010, and now enjoys being home in Rhode Island. “I have time to work out at the gym and go out with friends and enjoy life,” she says. “I have a garden in the summer that is a fun experimental endeavor every year. I think I have champion strawberries now. I actually sold some of my veggies at a little stand at the top of my road – very country and very fitting for me and my lifestyle: relaxed.”
Ultimately, success is, defined by Bob Dylan, when someone wakes up and goes to sleep while doing what they want in between, she says “I am a successful comedian because I still make my living making others and myself laugh.”
Performing April 18
59 Main Street, East Greenwich