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SOMMORE: Laughing Out Loud

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Laugh if you want to, but Sommore is calling the shots. The Queen of Comedy sounds off and faces hecklers in her solo debut, "The Queen Stands Alone" Saturday Sept. 13, on Comedy Central. Tackling topics from the presidential election to what it would mean to be Oprah Winfrey's BFF, the Morris Brown business graduate and 1995 recipient of the Richard Pryor Award for Comic of the Year, is no stranger to cracking jokes that resonate with a wide audience. She was the first woman to host BET's "Comic View" and, along with fellow queens of comedy, made the Guinness Book of World Records for their performance before a crowd of 50,000 in Atlanta, Georgia. ESSENCE.com caught up with the comic to discuss why profanity is like hot sauce, teenage lesbians and kicking male groupies to the curb.

ESSENCE.COM: So you've gone solo without the other Queens of Comedy. How was this project different?
SOMMORE: First of all, I'm by myself. I produced, directed and wrote it. It wasn't easy because I am presenting 15 years worth of material and it's all new. There are classics like when I talk about wishing I was Oprah's best friend because Gayle doesn't help her pop her collar enough. Now when I watch the final project I would've definitely punched up the jokes a bit more and delivered them a little better.

ESSENCE.COM: Aww, that's just the perfectionist and diva in you! What's the one thing people would be shocked to learn about you?
SOMMORE: People have a problem with me swearing and they think I walk around cursing all day, but they would be surprised to know that I don't curse when I'm not working and I'm very intelligent. I'm a very normal person and a lot different from the person you see on stage. I curse because I want to. It's just like putting hot sauce on chicken; it makes the meat tastes better for some folks and others, not so much.

ESSENCE.COM: So I'm sure you went there on the election. What do you think about the presidential election and Obama's "lipstick" comment?
SOMMORE: Well, I just love the fact that Obama is running for president and not just because he's Black, but because he represents change and change is always good. I hope Obama's race will boost everyone's self-esteem. I hope it shows Black men that they don't have to be rappers and ball players. As far as the lipstick comment, he's been pressured to make a statement for a long time, but he should have remained neutral as you know Black people are always judged differently and to speak out against a White woman. Well, I just hope it doesn't hurt him.

ESSENCE.COM: Yes, politics and freedom of speech can be a tricky thing. Speaking of which, a little birdie tells me you're working on giving some teenage girls a voice?
SOMMORE: Yes, I finished a documentary about teenage lesbians that I was inspired to do because I've always been curious about why so many girl decide early in their lives think that they only want to date women. At that stage, all I wanted to do was get away from my mom and find me a boyfriend. I try to learn their personal histories to better understand who they are and where they come from. Some were molested or raped; others grew up with their moms on drugs and a lot of different scenarios. It was very informative.

ESSENCE.COM: Everyone knows Ms. Sommore is grown and does what she wants to do especially when it comes to dealing with younger men and sex. What is the one thing a man can do to make you kick him to the curb?
SOMMORE: Yes, I prefer younger men because youthfulness is the key to life. Women say they want an older man because they can teach them things, but I'm like you can learn anything nowadays on the Internet. YouTube has how-to videos. And, if a man approaches me and is a fan of mine and feels the need to quote one of my sexual jokes, that turns me off because his interest in me is based on a false pretense. That's so played out and makes him a male groupie. Any man who's interested in me needs to be able to separate me from the woman who happens to do comedy.

Credit: Keith Major

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