Comediennes of Quahogs: Shucking stereotypes for laughs

Liz Moniz and Len Cabral at the 2023 Motif Spoken Awards. (Photo: Amaziyah the Great)

Rhode Island women are tough: We wear T-shirts in 60-degree weather, drink iced coffee in the winter, love as deep as Providence potholes, fight as hard as Rhody Rams, act as sweet as coffee milk, and yet still manage to contain all the saltiness of the Narragansett Bay. This mystery vortex of an “Island” breeds whip-smart, no-BS-taking, mouth-gun-slinging women. All you need is a dash of funny and you’ve got some of the country’s brightest comedians in the smallest state. Here’s a showcase of some of RI’s most famous women of stand-up comedy, and some up and comers.


Born in Westerly, Ruth Buzzi is a renowned comedian and actress, best known for her performances on the television comedy show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Buzzi’s character portrayals, especially the dowdy spinster Gladys Ormphby, left a lasting impression on audiences. Over her extensive career, she has received several Emmy nominations and has won a Golden Globe. Her comedic style is characterized by broad slapstick and character comedy.

Poppy Champlin is a seasoned stand-up comedian from Rhode Island with a dynamic career that includes television appearances on programs such as The Oprah Winfrey Show and comedy specials across Showtime and HBO. She’s celebrated for her fast-paced humor and has significantly contributed to LGBTQ+ representation in comedy. As the creator of the “Queer Queens of Qomedy,” she showcases LGBTQ+ talent in the comedy scene.

Doreen Collins is a renowned stand-up comedian and actress from Rhode Island, celebrated for her engaging humor rooted in local life and politics. She stars in “The Ocean State Follies,” a comedy sketch show satirizing Rhode Island society. Collins’ versatile comedic talent shines through both her stand-up performances and acting roles, making her a prominent figure in the local comedy scene.

Maya Manion grew up in Vermont but moved to Rhode Island to break into show business! Maya was featured on Nick at Night’s Funniest Mom in America and recently was runner up in Mohegan Sun’s Funniest Comic in New England. Manion’s comedy speaks for many moms out there. She is relatable, hilarious, and refreshingly real. A true pleasure to watch on stage.

If you had asked Liz Moniz what she was good at a few years ago, she probably would have told you she makes a mean meatloaf. (Note: This is how she describes herself, and not how I would describe her. Though honestly, she really does make a mean meatloaf.) This was before the married mom of two stumbled onto the Rhode Island comedy scene — and started crushing packed houses. Moniz is a regular guest at the Comedy Connection in East Providence, Comix Mohegan Sun, and various shows and fundraisers across New England, her material has also been featured on Sirius XM’s Raw Dog Comedy.

Providence’s Christi Chiello is a distinctive voice in New York City’s comedy scene. Chiello is known for her unique blend of sweetness and wildness. She’s made notable appearances on Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, and her work spans stand-up, voice acting, and live performances. With a vibrant online presence and participation in major comedy festivals, Chiello brings a fresh, energetic approach to her performances.

Kirsten Logan is a comedian from Peacedale. Logan is very braggadocious about how she is Rhode Island’s only inbred-Mexican-fantastic-dysplastic comic. She has performed at the Portland Maine, Rogue Island, and Toronto Dark Comedy Festivals. You may have seen her on Nickelodeon, or heard her on Sirius XM. Like Moniz, Logan is also a regular at the Comedy Connection in Providence.

There are so many unbelievably talented female comics, but I don’t have the space to list them. The best way to get to know RI comedians is to come to a local show. Support the arts, support your friends, and heck, if you’ve ever thought about getting out and doing comedy, do it! Join us! There are Facebook groups for open-mics, and comedy classes available through the Comedy Connection Comedy Club, as well as John Perrotta’s Comedy Factory. If all of this seems overwhelming, just go to a show. Though… if you dare heckle, I guarantee a deep, tough, sweet, and salty Rhodey Girl will pack you a word wallop.