In the world of comedy, the discussion of what makes a comic is frequently visited. Many would agree that success or no success, the real comedians are always working. They are perpetually touring. They are writing nonstop. The hustle never ends. One comedian that definitely proves this is Mo’nique. Even after winning an Oscar for one of the most somber movies to hit the big screen, she continued traveling to venues all of the US and telling jokes. The woman is a game changer.
Mo’nique grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. Originally, she aspired to graduate college, and attended Morgan State University. That all changed when her brother Steve dared her to do an open mic at a local comedy club, the Baltimore Comedy Factory Outlet. For a first timer, she blew everyone away. The experience led to a new vocation. She focused on comedy and landed gigs like Def Comedy Jam and Showtime at the Apollo. In 2002, she became the first woman to host the latter mentioned show.
Her stand-up is confrontational and delivered with a raspy voice. She riffs on race putting it in a matter of white versus black, and she covers even trivial differences from food to relationships to exercise. On why black women are not in horror films, Mo’nique explains that they run from the killer, but, “White women, y’all look for the monster. You go outside and call him, ‘Jason, is that you, Jason?’” The jokes are not always centric around pitting two races against each other. She also points out, “White people, black people, we’re not each other’s enemy… It’s the Chinese people we need to watch out for.” Satirical, she finds ways in the act to bring both parties to some silly togetherness.
Her humor reaches deep. Somehow in the last twenty years or so, she has been able to slip in a dark OJ Simpson joke with the punch revolving around murdering a white woman. Her writing can be cutting and irreverent, but it is appreciated. In a bit when she divorced her vertically challenged, first husband, she wryly states, “I had to divorce his ass because he was after my lucky charms.”
She creates a proud personna for loving herself as she is, and conversely, she picks on “skinny bitches.” She has gone as far to author two books emphasizing this thought, Skinny Women Are Evil: Notes of a Big Girl in a Small-Minded World, and Skinny Cooks Can’t Be Trusted. She opens up about sex and being very voluptuous. The comedian has no fear in using the mic in a phallic gesture or showing the audience what she is working with.
Recently, she lost weight, and in a bit, she cites wanting to be healthier to live longer with her family. The love for her husband motivates the will to keep going even if, as she puts it, “I might be blind with a cockeyed tooth,” followed by the stand-up crossing her eyes and humping the air. Her physicality maintains a high energy in the performances.
Her style stands out. Mo’nique has been nominated and won many awards. The recognition is not what keeps this performer motivated. Obviously, something more profound drives her. In 2008, the comic told Oprah that the advice from a fellow colleague, Martin Lawrence, helps project her forward. Lawrence guided, “Listen, don’t ever let them tell you what you can’t have.” If anything, she definitely owns the stage.