Facebook followers and friends of Kambri Crews have noticed a lot of activity around something called Q.E.D.* over the last few months. What started out as vague inquiries about how one goes about starting a business in NYC has quickly evolved into a bona fide new performance and learning space that will be opening its doors next month in Astoria.
The bottom line is: Q.E.D.: A Place to Show & Tell is an exciting addition to NYC storytelling. At least one excellent show that was without a venue, Talk Therap
y, has a new home there, and there are other storytelling shows starting up in the space. Q.E.D. is about much more than storytelling, but I did want to highlight it here because while I love Brooklyn and Manhattan, I’m thrilled to see Kambri putting Queens on the cultural and storytelling map. Want to help out? Here’s a wish list of items Q.E.D. needs.
In between ripping out ceiling tiles, finding pastry display cases and navigating obscure city liquor licensing laws, Kambri took the time to answer a few of my questions about this new venture.
Kambri, what is Q.E.D.?
We like to think of Q.E.D. as an after-school space for grown-ups. We’ll host arts and crafts, stand-up comedy, tastings, DIY projects, poetry slams, game nights, walking tours, storytelling, gardening, improv, and everything in between.
In a nutshell, we aim to provide a fun, creative, casual space to laugh and learn by opening our stage to performers of various levels of experience and hosting classes and workshops that are affordable and accessible to all types of folks.
Who’s the audience for it?
Anyone living and breathing! But it’s mostly for us Queens residents. There’s nothing like this here. If you’re in Manhattan or Brooklyn, it probably seems unfathomable but they are seriously spoiled by the great venues and events going on. Astoria is in great need of creative spaces. Daytime classes will be geared for kids, moms, and retired folks while afternoon and weekend classes will be for adults who are curious about learning and having fun doing it.
What makes it unique?
There are skill-share places and there are performance spaces, but there is no mash-up of the two that I’m aware of. And for Astoria, it’s the only dedicated performance space for comedians, writers, poets, storytellers to work and perform.
What’s your background? Have you done something like this before?
For four years I served as the Director of Marketing and PR for the comedy club Comix. During that same time, I created and ran the 50-seat comedy venue Ochi’s Lounge. When Comix went belly-up, it took Ochi’s down with it, so I moved on as comedy booker for the 92Y Tribeca for two years. I left that post when my memoir Burn Down the Ground was published by Random House in 2012. I spent the last two years touring the country giving speeches, lectures, performing a solo show and appearing on comedy and storytelling shows.
Why did you decide to open it now?
When Comix closed in 2010, taking Ochi’s down with it, I tried finding another venue to relocate. I couldn’t afford to open my own space in Manhattan, I don’t live or work in Brooklyn, and I wasn’t sure Queens could support it. I started booking comedy for the 92Y Tribeca and was finishing up my memoir, so had other things on my plate. Now that my book is out and my book tour has wound down, I started looking for spaces again. I considered an old church in the Catskills, but it was too far from the city which is bad when you’re married to a NYC-based comedian. The last year, there has been an influx of creative types to LIC and Astoria, it’s my home and I can afford it. Most importantly, I feel like Queens needs it and the community will support it.
What does Q.E.D.’s presence mean for the NYC storytelling community?
Not sure I have an answer for this in re: storytelling community. For performers in general: Having a dedicated space that allows room for experimenting without pressure or fears is freeing for performers. That’s what we hope to offer as well as a way to promote work, make money doing one’s craft and networking with like-minded folks.
What’s the process for pitching a class or a show?
If you have an idea, email firstname.lastname@example.org with show ideas and email@example.com to pitch a class. It’s always helpful to include any previous experience, website links and videos, if available. We’ll also have a class on how to get booked on comedy shows and TV which will be helpful for any new performer. Here are more details on teaching.
Do you have a larger vision for Q.E.D. in the future, and if so then what is it?
We plan to clean the backyard, build a deck and plant a garden. We hope the backyard will be a great community space with composting and gardening classes and a garden that will yield fruits and vegetables that we can share with our neighbors and use to teach home canning classes. There’s also a huge basement with high ceilings that we would like to finish some day so that we can host bands, something we can’t do on the main floor because of sound issues. Also the basement will be good for rehearsal space and classes, too.
To find out more…
*Quod erat demonstrandum: “that which was to be demonstrated” in Latin.