Friends, and even an 11th-grade teacher, told class clown Sampson McCormick he’d either end up as a stand-up comedian or a drag queen. He opted for the former.
“I like high heels OK, but I don’t like stockings and all that strapping up, so I thought, ‘I guess I’ll be a comedian,'” he says.
The 25-year-old Evergreen, N.C., native started standup nearly nine years ago and by the time he came out in his early 20s, he was incorporating a lot of gay material in his act.
“I’m just as funny as some of the straight comedians,” he says. “I don’t use the N word …. It’s a different perspective, being openly gay. I can get away with more. Even flirting with men in the audience. Even the straight ones. They’re there to laugh and have fun so they just go with it.”
He’s also active in LGBT rights and says he likes venues where straight and gay crowds can interact.
“I believe both communities are only as separate as we make them,” he says. “That’s part of my activism, uniting people. Men, women, black, white, gay, straight — to me that kind of activism brings people out of their boxes and a lot of prejudice exists because people never get out of their boxes.”
McCormick has played benefits and at venues such as Titan, Town, EFN Lounge, Phase 1 and more. He’s not performing at D.C. Black Pride this year but has Black Pride appearances scheduled this spring in Tennessee, North Carolina and Oklahoma. He’s sometimes surprised to find he has a following in unexpected places from people who’ve found clips of his shows on YouTube.
He supplements his income working at Starbucks (“People see their daily Starbucks trip as their opportunity to be high maintenance,” he says) but would like to eventually do standup full time.
Is it dicey doing comedy in often P.C.-to-a-fault LGBT activist circles? He says not particularly.
“Honesty can be very funny and open a lot of dialogue through pointing out the absurd,” he says. “That’s what makes it funny. People don’t stop to examine how they sound.”
McCormick is single and lives on Capitol Hill. He enjoys writing, cooking, gossiping and going to drag shows in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been “out out” since 2007. The hardest person to tell was myself, because being a product of the South, it’s not acceptable to be a “sissy.” But I love the skin I’m in. Secondly was mom, who gave me a hard time at first, but is now more supportive than ever! She even went with me to Ziegfeld’s one night!
Who’s your LGBT hero?
James Baldwin and Bishop Yvette Flunder.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
The whole Navy Yard area. My best friend and I used to go out there and look around before we were even old enough to legally get in. And Mr. P’s (and yes, we used to sneak in before they started carding).
Describe your dream wedding.
Earth tones, fancy food, chocolate, laughter and spending the evening dancing with the man that God sends me.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Education, homeless youth, violence and empowering the poor, underserved and underprivileged.
What historical outcome would you change?
I believe that everything happens for a reason. So, I don’t think I’d change anything.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Oh gawd! A lot of the music videos and shows of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Too many to name.
On what do you insist?
That people say “excuse me,” “please” and “thank you.” I mean damn! Is that so hard to do? And when people on the Metro put their bags in the seat next to them when it’s crowded. “Bitch, move that bag! You paid for one seat! Lemme sit down, I’s is tired!”
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“Tried to go to bed early (9 p.m.) but woke up and can’t get back to sleep. I would go for a late night walk, but it’s 1 in the morning, I don’t need folks thinkin’ I’m workin’ the HO STROLL!”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Put that In Your Pipe and Smoke it, BITCH!”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Slip it into the drinks of the psycho-ass gays. I get tired of them hitting on me in the clubs. We all know some of these little gay boys out here are crazy.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
A God that loves and embraces all people. I’m so happy to have such a loving creator who proves to me daily that s/he is in my corner. Hopefully one day, these fundamentalists will get the message.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Not to divide the community. There’s racism, classism and machismo even in the gay community. If we could get past that and love one another outside of all that superficial crap, we could all get a lot further. Also to constantly educate themselves.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
The chance for everyone to experience happiness. And for a man who knows how to cook. I’ve done all the cooking in both of my previous relationships. Seriously, learn how to cook!
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That gay men are all effeminate and fight by windmilling. I know some gays who can tear some shit up!
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
I can’t pick one. I like anything that’s gay, especially if it’s well written.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
When people ask how you’re doing then cut you off when you start to answer or frown when you’re honest if your day is not going great.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
The fact that I was blessed with the ability to make folks laugh. It makes me happy to see other people happy.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That trouble doesn’t last.
Opportunity and cosmopolitanism (is that a word?). But there’s no place like D.C. It’s in a league of its own!