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Sommore talks comedy with Reminder Publications

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

Sommore never thought she could do stand-up comedy despite her love for it. Twelve years after she read a book on the subject and tried out on stage, she has appeared as one of the "Queens of Comedy," been called "a force to be reckoned with in the new millennium" by Oprah Winfrey and won the Richard Pryor Comic of the Year Award.

She will be appearing at the Comedy Connection at the Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee for one show at 7 p.m. on Nov. 25.

Speaking to Reminder Publications, Sommore said that after some initial efforts during open mic nights, she received her real training as comic as the emcee for a male strip revue. She recalled with a laugh that she had to appear before "300 women who weren't interested in anything I said."

Week after week though, she would try out material and include it in her 20-minute set until people started coming early just to see her.

She said her comedy is based on observation.

"I listen, I watch everything," she said.

And Joan Rivers and her aggressive say-anything style of comedy inspired her.

Unlike Rivers, whose stand-up included some severe self-deprecation, Sommore said that women comics who are attractive "have a fine line to walk."

The wrong choice of outfit could inspire remarks from male members of an audience that could make the female members a little upset, she said.

"I point out my flaws first," she said.

Women comics today still fight a battle about whether or not they are as funny as male comedians. Sommore recalled how she and other women would be introduced at open mic nights with an admonition that the audiences should go easy on them.

That's one reason she, Adele Givens, Laura Hayes and Mo'Nique toured as "the Queens of Comedy" in 2001 she wanted to show that women comics are the equals of men.

Sommore said she appreciates both working live on stage performing stand-up and acting in a sit-com or movie. She's appeared on "The Hughleys" and "The Parkers" and in the movies "Soul Plane" and "Friday After Next."

She'd like to have a television comedy of her own and shot a pilot that wasn't successful. She added that she draws inspiration from the fact that Dave Chappelle had 13 pilots before having success with his Comedy Central show.

She said the challenge is to find a format to present "my voice, my true voice."

"It's not easy to do," she added.

She said it's frustrating as a comedian who writes her own material to perform a script that is supposedly funny, but isn't.

She also noted that with success on television could come with a big paycheck that can be accompanied with a loss of creative freedom.

"Me, I'll take the money," she said with a hearty laugh.

Sommore is known for a hold-no-prisoners humor and said she "makes a distinct choice about the style I'm going to do.

"I curse to make a point, to enhance a joke," she said and added that she hosted an entire season of BET's "Comic View" show without using any questionable language.

What she likes to present is "the real raw truth."

"Sometimes we need a little severity," she said. "Life isn't all peaches and cream."