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Arts & Culture
These articles were excerpted from Tapestry, a weekly newsletter that examines the arts and entertainment world in Charlotte and North Carolina.

Keeping It Clean: Charlotte's Tara Brown Finds Niche With 'Clean Comedy'

Tara Brown
Courtesy Tara Brown
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Tara Brown poses at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas, where she performed with comedian Jeanne Robertson.

It’s not that Tara Brown doesn’t appreciate a deliciously bawdy joke. Her favorite comedian while she was growing up was Eddie Murphy, after all.

“And he is not clean,” Brown said, laughing.

But for herself? Typical comedian fare filled with profanity and innuendos just isn’t her. It’s not how she interacts with people in her daily life as a public relations professional, and it’s not how her mind works when finding humor in the everyday moments that become stories and one-liners in her shows.

“It's a part of who I am,” she said. “I don't think I set out to be like, ‘This needs to be clean.’ It's just an extension of who I am. I am not a person who speaks in profane language.”

“Clean comedy” has become Brown’s defining trademark in her seven years of performing. She’s turned her reputation into the Clean Comedy Brunch, a family-friendly show that will be performed in person at The Comedy Zone on Aug. 8 at 3:30 p.m.

Tara Brown
Courtesy Tara Brown
Tara Brown's Clean Comedy Brunch will be Aug. 8 at The Comedy Zone.

In the pre-COVID days, Brown had a Clean Comedy Brunch every few months, and she’s proud that she’s developed something that showcases fellow comedians and improv groups who put on the kind of show that families with young children can attend. This is the first since the pandemic began, but she wants to return to that regular quarterly schedule.

“I designed these shows to be super-duper family friendly,” Brown said. “There's no profanity, vulgarity or innuendo. I like to tell my performers, ‘If you cannot tell your joke to your mother or your pastor, you cannot say it at my show.’”

Brown knows a little bit about how to tell jokes to mothers and pastors – her own mother is a pastor. She and Jonathan Williams, who also will be performing Aug. 8, have a podcast called “Preachers’ Kids,” in which they talk about being just that and how it influences their work and lives.

“Yes, that informs a lot of what I do,” Brown said. “But here’s the thing that I definitely want to get across: I have respect for anyone doing comedy in any form. What I tell people all the time is just because I work clean, I enjoy all types of humor. And you can find inspiration from everything.”

Brown finds her own inspiration in mundane things like trips to the grocery store where she’s asked to “round up” to donate to charity, or in turning 50 and suddenly discovering a need for more naps. She began working as a comedian at age 45 after taking a comedy class at The Comedy Zone just for something to do. She’s been performing ever since.

“Clean comedy” simply came naturally, and she’s embraced her identity. Two years ago, she won the Jeanne Robertson Comedy with Class contest, which included among the prize a chance for her to perform in Dallas with Robertson, a humorist.

And although Brown was able to keep busy during the pandemic with virtual shows, she thinks her kind of no-worries, everyone-can-enjoy humor might be just what we all need right now.

“It just hit me that there was a need for this,” she said. “There was a need for people to just come out and enjoy some humor that they didn't have to worry about. ... After what we've come through, goodness, we need to laugh more than ever."

WFAE's weekly arts and entertainment email newsletter, Tapestry, will keep you in the loop on arts and culture in the Charlotte region.

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