As of Thursday morning, Tiffany King claimed she had not seen the viral footage of her impromptu stand-up set in front of a crowd seated for a movie at a Burbank, California, theater. But she was ready to talk about it anyway.
Footage of her performance was shared by @sorry__charley (who did not respond to a request for comment) on Twitter on March 23. It was a choppy edit that included soundbites like “all the moms in NorCal thought I was a stripper,” “I joined the all-Black gospel choir” (King is white), and multiple instances of singing.
“Can you please tell me how bad it is?” King asked BuzzFeed News, wincing, before confidently diving into her story.
The 42-year-old comedian, who is a professional psychic medium, a self-proclaimed “momic,” and a recent winner of The Celebrity Dating Game, said her performance was a “victory against misogyny.” The projector was broken, the screening of The Lost City was running late, and she wanted to make her 8-year-old daughter proud, she said.
“Honestly, my kid dared me to go down there. I’m a single mom. I can’t get up there every night like a lot of comedians,” she said. “But my kid dared me, and I’m not gonna say no to my kid.”
Though @sorry__charley said “all hell broke loose” when she took the stage, one commenter compared her to a “theater kid who desperately needs love,” and another declared “unsolicited stand-up comedy should be a felony.” King is choosing to focus on the positive feedback she got.
“I was delivering info [to] the audience, almost like a Host,” she said in a text message. “I have no shame.”
She said she took the stage for about a minute and started returning to her seat when a woman loudly complained about her performance, saying “put us out of our misery.” Two people in the front row encouraged her to ignore the negativity, and she heard clapping, so she returned to the spotlight for about 15 more minutes. She had done a set at the Laugh Factory in Long Beach a few days prior, but that was a very different set — the kind she couldn’t do in front of her child — which involved her personal experiences with alleged abuse and misogyny.
So what did she do? An amalgamation of clean bits from some of her practiced sets, as well as quite a bit of opera. She said she walked directly to the woman who jeered at her earlier as she sang, which can briefly be seen in the original clip. She said it’s all practice for her upcoming album, which will include comedy, music, and “a parody of an R&B song about a guy with a tiny penis.”
In response to the people who bemoaned the fact that anyone could effectively use patient moviegoers as an audience for a stand-up set, she joked that it’s going to become her “shtick” in the future.
“I think it’s a great idea. Get a warm-up comic for movie theaters. I just need a little microphone and a speaker, and I would just go do it because I love comedy so much,” she said. King added that this particular screening was for members of AMC Stubs A-List, a program that offers discounted tickets through a monthly subscription. One Twitter user who said she was in the audience said there were “a lot of industry people” there. They weren’t there to see stand-up comedy, but that’s what they got — and at least the two people in the front row seemed to enjoy it.
“Listen, I didn’t kill it, but I’ve bombed harder than that before. Comedy is a muscle, you have to work at it, and that was a good workout for me,” King said. “I’m sure people were judging me, but that’s what the world does now, right? But I get it. People were there to see Channing Tatum. They weren't there to see some chick in a tight dress tell jokes.”
After the interview ended, King quickly called back to plug her nonprofit, Momic Productions, which pays for up to one month of childcare for "single mom artists" leading up to a showcase of their work. That way, they won’t have to playfully hijack a movie theater ahead of a screening to work on their material.