If you think being a woman in the workforce is hard, try being a female comedian.
Like most industries, the “funny business” is male-dominated and slow to accept a lady behind the mic. For 20 years, Sommore has defied the odds with her unique brand of sass and class. As an undisputed queen of comedy, she continues to tour and tackle just about any topic with wit, confidence and, of course, hilarity.
Tonight (May 31), she’ll unleash her newest material on Chandelier Status, a television special airing on Showtime. Vixen caught up with the comic to talk about her new gig, dressing for the stage and what she does best: making people laugh. — Nicole Brown
VIBE Vixen: What is the story behind Chandelier Status?
Sommore: I came up with the title because I wanted to describe what I’m feeling in this new society. Everything moves fast. The only way to know who you are is to stay true to yourself and be a chandelier. When you see a room that’s beautiful, it’s usually the chandelier that’s constant. People usually change all the other things in the room, but the chandelier stays and illuminates the whole room. So, I decided that I was going to live my life like a chandelier meaning I wasn’t going to hate on no one else. I wasn’t going to compete with anyone else. I was going to concentrate on being the best me that I can be. I believe that when you do that, you shine.
What is the key to reinvention for a long lasting career?
I don’t think it’s a reinvention. As a stand-up comedian, there’s a lot of time when the light don’t shine on us. Most of my work is done at night. When the light is on us, it may look like we’re reinventing, but I’ve been doing this constantly for 20 years. I think that people will see the growth in me. When you do this for 20 years, you have to talk about your life. I think that I’m funnier than ever. My view and my take on society, it’s smart and it’s clever.
Speaking of “new society,” are you drawing inspiration from what you see in social media?
I get my material from my perspective. I don’t tell jokes on Twitter and I don’t get comedians who do. Every now and then, I’ll tweet funny ideas I have. But there’s so much more that goes into a joke. The media right now is a blessing and a curse. It’s a beautiful thing that people can express themselves. People are committing to group thinking [but] sometimes you can lose your individuality.
Is there such thing as going too far in comedy?
I try not to do mean-spirited comedy. There’s only two people I won’t talk about and that’s Whitney Houston and Oprah. After that, everyone and anyone else is cool.
What do you do when the audience doesn’t laugh at your joke?
It happens. When the audience doesn’t laugh, as a comedian, perfectionist and artist, I don’t blame them. I blame myself. It could be various reasons. Someone may have told the same joke before you. They could be settling down and not really listening. I’m a professional. Sometimes they won’t get it, but when they do, it’s a beautiful thing.
And hilarious. So, why do you think female comics are few and far in between?
It’s a male-dominated business. We have to fight for everything that we get. There’s men that just don’t think that we’re funny. And there’s people that are going to think women aren’t funny period. They get discouraged and give up. It’s hard for us to get stage time, to even go up at open mics. I tell women we need to hear your voice. I want to see a woman who has six kids by six different men. I want to see what she thinks is funny. I want to see her get up on stage and bare her soul.
Speaking of men, are you dating?
I date on the road. Usually if a guy is a fan of mine, he already has a perception of me that I’ll probably disappoint him. He probably thinks I’m something that I’m not.
VV: Switching to style, what are your must-haves for the dressing room?
S: I have to have water. I have to have Ciroc, pineapple juice, grilled chicken, vegetables, chocolate covered strawberries, roses and candles.
How do you deal with the bright stage lights during a performance?
I hate when I’m finished working and I don’t look ugly because that means I didn’t work hard enough. When I’m done, I’m usually sweating. I try to use a mattifier, but the lights are hot. Nine times out of ten, I got on some sequins or something hot. I wish I could learn to wear something breezy, but I’m always picking something hot and dramatic.
How do you decide what to wear?
However I’m feeling. My biggest fear is to show up to work and someone in the audience has on the same thing I have on, so I make sure they don’t. With that, I just create something to wear. I use Black Opal products. I love makeup. I read makeup books and videos and all those kind of things. MAC makeup. For the most part, I do girly stuff. I’m a girly girl, but I can hang with the boys.
Now, your sister Nia Long just wrapped filming on The Best Man Holiday. Will you be watching?
Of course! I’m her number one fan.
What is your dream movie role?
I want to smack the shit out of someone in a movie. I really do. I just want to be fabulous and go in there and slap the shit out of somebody. I’m past the drink throwing. I want to play a real, real bitch.
Catch Chandelier Status tonight at 10:30pm on Showtime. The DVD is also available for purchase via ITunes or Amazon.