It ain't easy being a queen. Try making packed theaters laugh until tears flow -- now that's real work! Borrowing a page from the hugely popular Kings of Comedy, four fabulously females -- Laura Hayes, Adele Givens, Sommore, and Mo'Nique -- are bringing their side-splitting talents to the stage in the Showtime special, Queens of Comedy, which first aired on Jan. 27. And just like the brothers, these sisters hold nothing back!
Hayes (well-known for her role as Miss Laura on BET's Comic View) can confidently strut across stage, snatch her wig off, and skillfully prop it back on her head to make her point. And Def Comedy Jam veteran Givens is "such a lady," quipping about teeth that are so bad they resemble tools while sending the positive message that a flaw is nothing but a "unique identifying mark."
Sommore ( Comic View's first female host) is the diva who isn't ashamed to admit her love for sex, while criticizing Hollywood for not spotlighting more male body parts. And " The Parkers" star Mo'Nique rallies the overweight women in the crowd to clap hands, stand tall, and be proud to be big. We aren't mad at 'em. ESSENCE.com caught up with these female comedic rulers who show that you can't simply call yourself a queen. You have to be one, as well!
When you found out who you'd be working with on The Queens of Comedy, what was the first thing that went through your mind?
Sommore: I was happy -- it was like a reunion. For a long time, I wouldn't work on all-women shows, because the belief in the industry was that they didn't sell. But with the success of Kings of Comedy, that attitude somewhat changed. So I went with it.
How do you know when something is going to be funny to your audience?
Hayes: If something said in general conversation makes my friends and family laugh, then I'll probably try it as a joke. All of my material is based on something -- whether it's relaying a story to my sister on the phone about what happened to me at the bank that day, or something my grandbaby said.
You joke about relationships in many of your routines. Is it true that women have a harder time getting along with one another than men do?
Givens: I don't think so. I think we have a harder problem getting along with men, particularly in the industry. It's just like the race issue -- a man is always seen as more talented than a woman regardless of her skills.
Mo'Nique: There are a lot of female comics out there, but it's still a male-dominated profession. We're often overlooked, unfortunately. Many people think, 'They're female comics, so they're not funny.' We still deal with that, but I think Queens of Comedy is changing that perception. Even when the Kings and Queens went out together on tour...although I love those brothers, I think the misconception was, 'Ok, they're gonna do their little show -- and then we gonna come out and do the show!' But the Queens held their own. And yes, we cuss and get down, but so do the men. If I say 'd**k', don't tell me I'm nasty and then call Steve Harvey a genius for saying the same thing!
Hayes: There's a lot more to female comics than their raunchiness. Just give them a chance. Sometimes they have to be hard just to make it in the business. But as I matured, so did my comedy. Five years ago, I'd have said at least 20 "m.f.'ers" by now. But I have grandchildren now. They jack me up about my language!
If you weren't a comedienne, what would you be doing?
Sommore: I'd probably be working in entertainment or fashion--somewhere shining, that's for sure. No matter what, I'd be doing my thing.
Givens: Probably snatching purses. Shoot, I want some money! And these days, there doesn't have to be anything in the purse, either -- it's designer and costs $300-$400 anyway, so I'll be alright either way! But seriously,I don't know what I'd be doing. I've been doing comedy for 11 years, and and I love what I do. And that's a rare opportunity, doing what you love and being compensated for it.
Credit: © David Bailey/Showtime