Hello reader! It’s Pride month and Sandman Comedy Club has a show for and by the local LGBTQ community. Punchline Pride is this Sunday, and will feature a lineup representing different faces of the community’s funniest comedians in Richmond. I’ve seen most of the lineup at different shows around town, and they all kill. I got to talk with headliner Apple Brown Betty, who has quickly made a name for herself in the local comedy scene. She produced and handpicked all the comedians herself. Betty told me all about her start, her style, and this incredible show she has put together. Here’s our conversation.
Gabe: So, how’d you get into comedy? How’d that journey start?
Apple Brown Betty: Because someone paid me to do it. [laughs]
Gabe: [laughs] Oh nice.
ABB: I realize it’s not the conventional way. So I had a podcast called The Drunk Auntie Show on Legacy Internet Radio and my buddy Mike J, who is also a comedian, had a podcast on the same radio station. And he was always trying to convince me to do it, and I said “No, standup is a different muscle.” I always refer to myself as what I call “cookout funny.” Like, I’m conversationally funny. And I just didn’t see that for myself. Then one day he convinced me to come to his open mic, and I went. I didn’t really have anything prepared. I just kind of riffed and freestyled. And I did really well. A few months later he called me and said “Hey, I got a paid spot for you. Fifty dollars for ten minutes.” And I was like “Fifty dollars? Sure.” And that’s how I started. During the pandemic, actually.
Gabe: Is there a difference between your podcast voice and your standup voice?
ABB: No. There’s been a through-line because I’ve been in entertainment a long time. I’m new to standup but I’ve done several variations of entertainment. I started out in public access when I was twelve years old. That was super different. There was more of a shift there. Because when I was on public access, which I did from when I was 12 to when I was 23 or 24, it was a lot more conscience. I was one of those very militant Black people and was always railing against the system and raging against the machine.
Gabe: Hell yeah.
ABB: So the transition kind of came there about twenty years ago, when I shifted to more entertainment kind of things.
Gabe: That’s dope.
ABB: Thank you.
Gabe: What do you think it is about comedy or humor that is a unique way to make a point?
ABB: I think because it cushions. Like, my comedy a lot of times touches on the things that people are shy to talk about. So if you do it in a funny way that highlights human connections, then it’s not so awkward and not so tough. I like to make people laugh, but also like to make them feel better about their own quirks in the world we live in at large.
Gabe: Definitely. I noticed your comedy has a lot of social issues in it that are very important to people, but nothing about it is preachy. It’s still very funny, which is hard to swing sometimes.
ABB: Right. I don’t want to do preachy because that turns people off. You can have the best intentions, but my job is to make people laugh.
Gabe: So you’re headlining Sandman Comedy Club for Punchline Pride. What can you tell us about the show and who else is on it?
ABB: We have an amazing line-up of LGBT+ comedians. I love a good gimmick. Everyone on the show represents a different letter of the acronym. So the L, for lesbian, is Lucy Bonino. She’s a Richmond comedian. She’s got that life experience and still has that youthful exuberance that we can appreciate.
Gabe: I’ve seen her at a show. She’s great.
ABB: I like Lucy a lot. And then I have the B? Wait, LB? G! [both laugh] G is for gay. Anthony Oakes is a comedian from Washington DC. His comedy, he describes it as “clean yet edgy.” Which I really do appreciate, and I learned a lot watching him because I’m not always the best at tempering things sometimes. But his style has helped me develop mine in that way. Because you’ve got to play to the crowd in certain rooms, and not everybody is comfortable with certain words. But Anthony is super successful. He’s been doing this a long time and he and I actually have a few things coming up together. And then the B. I’m the B.
ABB: I identify as bisexual. And that’s what I bring to the table. And, of course, I’m a Richmond comedian. I’ve actually only been doing comedy about two years. This is my first comedy show that I’m producing. I’ve produced other types of shows but I haven’t produced anything since 2018, so I’m super excited about this.
Gabe: Awesome. Congrats.
ABB: And then the T is Mary Jane French. She’s our trans representation. And when I saw her for the first [time]… I’m searching for the right word to describe her. Very commanding. Her style is very commanding. You will listen. You will not talk at your table. She grabs your attention. Her punchlines punch hard, but still a lot of the social elements involved there.
Gabe: Yeah, I’ve seen her. Kills every time.
ABB: And also representing our +, we have Patrice DeVeaux, who identifies as pansexual. She gave me an opportunity to learn a little bit more about that. Because even being within the community, you know, I still had my share of ignorance to certain aspects of it. And Patrice is also from Richmond. She’s old school Richmond. Patrice and I actually went to the same middle school a hundred years ago. But she’s hilarious. I love being on a ticket with her anytime, because I know there’s someone in the room who’s as outrageous as me.
This is going to be a stellar show that you don’t want to miss. This Sunday, Sandman Comedy Club Presents Punchline Pride, with Patrice DeVeaux, Anthony Oakes, Mary Jane French, Lucy Bonino as host, and your headliner, Apple Brown Betty. Be sure to show up an hour early for food and beverages. Doors open at 5:30 and the show kicks off at 7:00. Tickets are $20 and can be found at Sandman Comedy Club. Happy Pride Month everybody!