No joke: Oscar-winning Mo’Nique is focused on comedy

[25 March 2010]

By Kevin C. Johnson

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MCT)

ST. LOUIS — Oscar-winning actress Mo’Nique is interested only in doing things her way.

She didn’t play the usual game of politicking to win her Academy Award for playing Mary Jones, one of the worst mothers in movie history, in “Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.”

And she’s apparently setting the rules when it comes to interviews for her new Spread the Love comedy tour.

A firm e-mail from her publicist arrived the night before her phone interview stating that Mo’Nique would address only one topic: the comedy tour. She would not, repeat not, discuss her Oscar win. She obviously wasn’t going to discuss her open marriage, which she talked about during her Barbara Walters interview.

Any deviation from discussing the comedy tour, the e-mail said, would result in the call’s disconnection.

The request shows that Mo’Nique considers herself a stand-up comedian first, not an actress. She just happens to be a stand-up comedian who won an Oscar.

“In doing all this press, now that I’ve won the Oscar, they want to ask me about being a dramatic actress. I’m a stand-up comedian,” says Mo’Nique, who hasn’t done stand-up in about a year. “That’s my baby, my first love.”

In addition to “Precious,” she has been busy hosting her late-night talk show on BET.

This may be news to those who just discovered Mo’Nique thanks to “Precious.” But long before the movie, Mo’Nique was part of the 2001 film “Queens of Comedy” that also featured Adele Givens, Sommore and Laura Hayes. She also appeared in under-the-radar black-oriented comedies such as “Phat Girlz,” “Hair Show” and “Soul Plane,” and starred in the sitcom “The Parkers” for several years.

Mo’Nique the comedian is loud and in your face. She’s topical and conversational. She calls everyone “Baby” and has always railed against skinny women.

“My style is very honest, and it’s for grown folks,” she says. “I want to make sure people know it’s not for children.”

That’s made even clearer when Mo’Nique lists her comedic influences: Richard Pryor, Moms Mabley, Redd Foxx, Hattie McDaniel (Mo’Nique owns the rights to her story) and her own Uncle Billy.

“He’s dead and gone, but let me tell you something, he’s one of the best cussers I’ve ever heard in my life,” she says.

According to Mo’Nique, cussing well is more than just choosing the right words.

“You’ve got to say it from your gut,” she says. “You’ve got to mean it. It has to come from a place that when you say it you know exactly what to say and the way to say it.”

On her new tour, fans can expect “a whole bunch of love, laughs and good music. We’re so excited, just from the title Spread the Love. We want people, from the time they walk into the building to the time they walk out, to feel tired from being loved and from laughing.”

Mo’Nique says her topics range from weight loss to her grandmother to her 4-year-old twins and 19-year-old son.

So what about disgraced golfer Tiger Woods, a frequent and easy punch line?

“It’s all in love,” Mo’Nique says. “But I will say I don’t think Tiger owes nobody an apology. I can’t wait to voice that.”

Then there’s President Barack Obama, who also makes it into many comedy routines. “Of course, but I moreso talk about first lady Michelle.”

She will also address the Oscar controversy.

“Everybody has their opinion about me and the (Oscar) campaign,” Mo’Nique says. “I read the stories. But I’m gonna tell the story.”

Though Mo’Nique is finally returning to her stand-up roots, fans shouldn’t look for a Queens of Comedy reunion, except for the one that already took place on “The Mo’Nique Show.”

“We all knew when we did it that it was something that was special in that moment,” she says.

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