BY TAMMY SCILEPPI
Q.E.D. is turning five this month and it’s hard to imagine what the borough’s creative scene would look like without Astoria’s super-popular comedy and storytelling spot.
QNS caught up with the venue’s visionary founder — and talent booker — Kambri Crews as she and her friends celebrate Q.E.D.’s five-year anniversary. The longtime Astoria resident shared with readers what she felt this exciting milestone meant to her and to the community she loves.
“We’ve become a defacto welcome wagon to new Astoria residents. Transplants and NYC natives alike can always find something to do,” Crews said. “Five years means we’re legit and not just a flash in the pan. And even if it all went belly up tomorrow, we’ve created lasting memories for so many friends, families, performers and their fans, and will always be part of Astoria’s history.”
“There’s no secret handshake at Q.E.D. Everyone is welcome and treated like a long-lost friend,” she added. “The ability to see up-and-coming comedians before they make it big, as well as seasoned professionals right down the block, is a special treat.”
Crews has been a force in the New York comedy scene both as a performer and a programmer for more than 15 years, providing numerous writers and comedians their first access to a New York stage and becoming a powerful first contact for many in the industry.
While juggling the struggles of a small business owner, she has produced thousands of events, sold the film rights to her New York Times bestselling memoir “Burn Down the Ground” – and, over the past two years – has overcome a serious battle with breast cancer.
Thanks to her efforts, Q.E.D. — located at 27-16 23rd Ave. — has become Queens’ destination for all things fun.
Loyal patrons as well as Crew’s notable friends in the comedy community – including her husband, comedian Christian Finnegan, actor and stand-up comic Jim Gaffigan, SNL head writer Bryan Tucker, actor/writer Frank Conniff of Mystery Science Theater 3K, NPR personality Ophira Eisenberg of Ask Me Another, Emmy-winning writer Eric Drysdale (The Daily Show, Colbert Report), Josh Gondelman (Desus and Mero), and Mike Drucker of Full Frontal – would probably all agree that sans Q.E.D., the borough just wouldn’t be the same.
“What I love most about Q.E.D. is how open it is. On any given night you’ll find neighborhood locals mixing with out-of-towners, standup comics performing alongside storytellers and musicians, grizzled pros hobnobbing with starry-eyed amateurs. All are welcome and, more importantly, all feel welcome,” said Finnegan.
Since Q.E.D.’s doors opened in 2014, Crews’ dream has been realized: To create a unique community space, creative and versatile enough to feature boldface names side-by-side with first-timers and enthusiasts. And there’s never a shortage of happenings, with multiple shows scheduled every evening; on any single night, you can realistically engage in a drink-and-draw, step up to your first open mic, see young comics on the rise or catch a seasoned veteran testing out new material.
Over the years, Q.E.D. has hosted hundreds of major comedians and speakers, including Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Michelle Wolf, Janeane Garofalo, Sasheer Zamata, Michelle Buteau and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Part of the venue’s success can be attributed to its diverse programming, which has remained inclusive and accessible. Over the years, they’ve expanded their small retail section to include more books by and for creatives and built a recording studio that’s available to rent by the hour, which is especially busy due to the explosion of podcasting.
With more than 100 events a month, there’s literally something for everyone.
Down the road, Crews said she’d love to see more literary and film events with local authors and filmmakers using QED as a backdrop for shooting locations, screenings, readings, etc., both private and public.
For current and upcoming programming, visit: www.qedastoria.com