published Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Christian comedy queens take stage tonight at Chauncey-Goode Auditorium in Chattanooga

Tresha McKie, left, and Brandalyn Shropshire,  will appear Saturday night as the "Christian Queens of Comedy" at the Chauncey-Goode Auditorium on the Tennessee Temple University Campus, starting at 7 p.m..
Tresha McKie, left, and Brandalyn Shropshire, will appear Saturday night as the "Christian Queens of Comedy" at the Chauncey-Goode Auditorium on the Tennessee Temple University Campus, starting at 7 p.m..
Photo by John Rawlston.

SHROP THE COP BANTER

"Have you ever been to church and sat next to somebody, and the minute they open their mouth, you're convinced the gates of hell have popped wide open? Now that's a violation. That's when you reach down in your breastplate of righteousness and you pull out a peppermint stick, and you stick it right in their mouth. ... Uhn, uhn. Don't say a word. That breath is not of God."

"Now, I don't want to work with Mr. Brown. Have you seen his knees? Looks like he's a Pillsbury Doughboy in a headlock. ... That's a major violation."

IF YOU GO

• What: Christian Queens of Comedy.

• When: 7 p.m. today.

• Where: Chauncey-Goode Auditorium, 1815 Union Ave, Tennessee Temple University.

• Admission: $10.

• Phone: 313-7343.

Brandalyn Shropshire said it started with a call several years ago from someone at a local church who'd heard she did a comedy routine.

"I said I didn't," she said.

"I think you can," the caller said.

Thus was born Shropshire's Shrop the Cop routine, "and it's grown from there," she said.

Tonight, she will be joined by fellow Chattanoogan Tresha Rutledge McKie and headliner Nikita Blakeney from Charlotte, N.C., for a Christian Queens of Comedy show in Chauncey-Goode Auditorium at Tennessee Temple University.

"We all kind of have our own thing," Shropshire said of their individual routines.

Blakeney's comedy, she said, began following the death of the North Carolinian's mother and the sometimes awkward, sometimes funny situations that can occur surrounding the death of a loved one.

McKie said her comedy emanates from being the mother of five boys ages 14-19, including two sets of twins, and the subsequent troubles that ensue.

In her routine, as Shrop the Cop, she "makes fun of everything that happens in church," Shropshire said. "Nothing is off limits."

Shrop the Cop is an androgynous mix of Barney Fife, the shaky but swaggering deputy sheriff from "The Andy Griffith Show," and Martin Lawrence's character Otis the Security Guard, she said.

McKie, who's been doing comedy locally since 1999, said she didn't start out as a Christian comedian and would "do whatever came to my mind."

One day, she recalled, one of her sons said, "Mama, tell me some of your jokes." Since they weren't family-friendly, she couldn't.

"It wasn't of God," McKie said. "It convicted me."

Shropshire, whose day job is in admissions and recruitment for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said the idea for a show grew out of the thought of celebrating her 30th birthday, which is Sunday.

"Typically in the past," she said, "I'd drink and be crazy [around her birthday]. This year, I wanted to make a turnaround. To celebrate, I thought, 'Let's do a comedy show.' "

Shropshire met McKie at an event honoring McKie's pastor at Hardy Elementary School. She first heard Blakeney at a church in Lilburn, Ga., an Atlanta-area suburb.

She said she has honed her act an average of twice a month for a couple of years and has opened for comedian J. Michael and for R&B artist Kem.

McKie has opened locally for Cedric the Entertainer, Arnez J. and other performers brought in by radio station Power 94.

Neither woman is looking for a career in comedy, but neither would rule it out.

"If God opens that door," said McKie, 36, who works both as a teaching assistant at Chattanooga Charter School of Excellence and at radio station WNOO. "I will [walk through it]."

Shropshire said she believes a clean comedian can be a success.

"I believe it's possible," she said. "I truly believe this is not something I wanted to do [but] something God gave me. I believe he will make it successful. And while it may not be possible for me, personally, there are lot of young people who are not looking for half-naked comedy, for cursing or violence, but for good, clean fun."

For the time being, though, Shropshire, putting on her character for the moment, believes Christians need to be cited.

"One of our No. 1 violations [is] we don't take the time to laugh," she said. "I hope Shrop the Cop will help them with that."

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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