Tara Brown has performed clean and family-friendly comedy across the country for nearly a decade. Along her journeys, she has shared stages with the likes of Ryan Hamilton, John Crist, Jimmie “JJ” Walker and the late John Witherspoon.
A Brooklyn, New York native and longtime Charlotte resident, Brown has endeared herself to the Queen City as the winner and finalist for a number of awards and competitions. She is also the most recent winner of the “Jeanne Robertson’s Comedy with Class Humor Competition.”
This Sunday, she will grace the Comedy Zone stage for her “Clean Comedy Brunch” show.
QCity Metro spoke with Brown on her career and her impact on the Charlotte comedy scene.
Stay informed with news and events that impact Charlotte’s Black communities.
Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q. Why did you get into comedy?
Tara Brown: I’ve been in comedy for almost 8 years. One day, I was trying to find something to do because I was a little bored and I needed some sort of hobby. So I googled things to do in Charlotte and I saw this comedy class pop up.
The Comedy Zone offered a six week comedy class. People have always said I was funny so I decided to give it a shot. I took that class and on the seventh week you have graduation where all your family and friends come see you do five minutes worth of material. It was phenomenal and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Q. Why did you decide to do clean comedy?
I do clean and family friendly comedy because it’s just what I love to do. I love when I can bring audiences together and they can all enjoy the same sort of humor. I wanted kids to be able to enjoy the same comedy that their parents did.
Q. You are a preacher’s kid and heavily involved in the church, how does your faith influence your comedy?
I’m not a person who uses profanity so when I’m telling jokes, I talk the same in a normal conversation so it doesn’t feel abnormal for me. My mom is a preacher, I’ve grown up in the church my whole life so this is the life I know now.
I’d like to say, I am a comedian who is a Christian, but I’m not a Christian comedian so you won’t hear me quoting scriptures. My faith and church has had an impact on my comedy from a perspective of love and community and not disturbing my audience members with the use of profanity and vulgarity.
Q. Did you face criticism from your peers for your clean style?
I would have to say I’m very thankful and blessed that I am in this Charlotte community. I feel nothing but support and respect. My peers in the comedic community know me so they know what they are getting during my stand-up. I think I’ve felt more respect than I have criticism. And I’m grateful for that.
Q. What topics do you discuss in your standup?
I am a very proud woman of 53 years. A lot of people don’t talk about their age. I’m good with it and the reason I am good is because I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. I’ve seen a lot of unimaginable things including death.
Making it to 53 is an achievement so with comedy what I tend to do a lot is talk about my experiences, being a woman of a certain age and the different travails that go along with that. My comedy is more observational.
Q. You’ve opened for a number of legendary comedians, what were some of those experiences like and what advice or lessons did you take from them?
John Witherspoon was really funny. I remember asking him, “What’s your favorite part of performing?” And he said, “When they give me my check.” (Brown laughs) It was just really funny. Jimmy Walker and I were a part of a roast, where we were on a team that was roasting the guest of honor. After the night he said to me, “You’re a star. I look forward to opening for you one day.“ That was kind of cool.
The lessons that I learned from all the comedians I’ve met or shared the stage with is to always be humble, kind, respectful and professional.
Q. You have been touted as the “Godmother of the Charlotte comedy scene.” What does that title mean to you?
I love the name because what it signifies to me is a respect. I try to nurture up-and-coming comedians, especially female comedians, and be there for them in a way that they feel supported and encouraged. I wear that badge with honor.
If you go:
Date: May 15, 2022
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Place: Comedy Zone
Tickets: $10 in advance/$15 at the door.