Trenton, N.J.’s own Queen of Comedy, Sommore, is one of the raunchiest comedians out there. She’s built a 20-year career on not holding back onstage, whether the subject is the many mistresses of Tiger Woods, Viagra’s role in the demise of the traditional Sugar Daddy relationship, or Nicki Minaj’s “aggressive ass.” But that’s not what’s on her mind right now. Right now, she wants to talk about the instructional video she found on YouTube that teaches people how to apply lotion correctly.
“I love the fact that we’re living in a society where you can no longer say, ‘I don’t know,'” she says. “You can find out anything you want to know, and I am a student at the University Of YouTube. There is a video on YouTube for everything. There’s a video that tells people how to put on lotion. I’ve never met a person that doesn’t know how to put on lotion, but in case you don’t, there is a YouTube tutorial about putting on lotion. I’m amazed by that. That’s one of the things that I’m talking about in my show now.”
Since her breakthrough appearance in the 2001 film The Queens of Comedy, in which she very nearly upstaged headliner Mo’Nique with a must-hear bit about the empowering nature of the hula hoop, Sommore has appeared in films (Friday After Next, Soul Plane), on TV (as the first female host of BET’s Comicvew, among many others), and in three stand-up specials. She’s a force behind the scenes as well, often producing and promoting her shows herself.
But before all of that, Sommore was a teacher and a business owner, both occupations that continue to serve her well. “I still feel like a teacher when I’m onstage,” she says. “I’m still lecturing and instructing. And as a businesswoman, I love the business of stand-up and doing stand-up. I like to work the business angle and the entertainment angle.”
Given the R- to X-rated nature of most of her material, it’s somewhat surprising to find out who one of her biggest comedic role-models is. “I’m a big Bob Newhart fan,” she says. “I love that dry, sarcastic kind of humor, and it’s all about timing. So sometimes if you say a punchline too quick or too slow, you can lose it. It’s about perfect timing. Even when I go to audition, and somebody has me say a punchline, if I say it a little bit differently or with a little more of a sarcastic tone, it makes it funnier. Comedians are able to do film, television, they host game shows, they do radio, all because they know timing.”
As she’s moved into her 40s, she says that her comedic perspective has evolved, both in terms of how she views the world and her own life. “I try to talk about today’s society, but I also talk about the way it’s affected me,” she says. “When I first started, I was 25 years old, and I didn’t have a house. Now I’m a woman with a mortgage, so my perspective on a lot of things is different. I’m different, my life is different.”
This leads us to a thoughtful and unexpected analogy. “I went to Bible study yesterday, and I was thinking how when I was growing up, my blessings had to have come from my grandparents praying for me,” she says. “Because if you think about it, when you’re 21, you don’t pray that long. Your prayers are like, you do that quick cross in front of you, the 1-2-3 cross. And you realize, ‘God, those quick little prayers couldn’t have sustained me, so somebody was praying for me.’ And now I’m at the age where I have to pray longer for younger people, because as you’re getting older you move into different cycles and there are different expectations of your life. I’m praying for the people who are just doing the 1-2-3 cross.”
Despite coming across as a no-holds-barred straight-talker onstage, Sommore says there are at least two topics she tends to avoid, for both personal and practical reasons. “I don’t talk about religion, and I don’t talk a lot about politics. I might throw something out there, but I’ll keep going, because I like everybody to be on the bus and moving,” she says. “Sometimes if you say something that comes off the wrong way when the bus is leaving, you get stuck there, and you can lose them for the rest of the show.”