Oscar-winning actress and comedienne Mo’Nique made headlines last year for suing Netflix, citing gender and racial discrimination. She felt she was offered a low-ball offer for a Netflix special compared to comics such as Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer and Dave Chappelle.
Instead, she found a new home for her latest comedy special on Showtime which debuted Friday, February 7 and brought along a few comedic pals, too. Shot at the Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points, it’s simply called “Mo’Nique & Friends: Live from Atlanta.”
It came together relatively smoothly, she said in an interview Friday. “Showtime had a conversation with my husband to do a ‘Monique and Friends.’ The deal made sense. That’s how it works. It was to the point and provided me real ownership of my image I’ve been building.”
Mo’Nique, who said she spends 85 percent of her time on the road doing stand-up shows nationwide, decided it was better to make the special a showcase rather than just do a solo show. (A solo stand-up special is forthcoming, she added.)
“It was exciting to introduce some new babies into the game and some legends that have been in the game,” she said. “It felt like I was in a juke joint with some friends, had a drink and just went up on stage.”
Among her friends are:
Prince T-Dub: “He’s charming, a gentleman and funny. He’s sharp. He is like Sammy Davis Jr. from the Rat Pack.”
Just Nesh: “This sister says it for what it is – unapologetically. I love that.”
Tone-X: “We have been traveling on the road for seven years. I have never seen this brother have a bad show.”
Correy Bell: “Sweet Correy B. She sent me an Instagram message. She wrote that I’m her spirit animal, that she can open my show. I told her to come to Chicago and give me five minutes. She tore the house down and now has been traveling on the road with me for a year and a half.”
Mo’Nique likes comics who bring real stories on stage, not just jokes, and that has been her own mantra for 30 years in the business.
“My husband said to me a few years back, ‘Momma, there are really funny people, then there are greats.’ The greats bring you into their lives. They don’t make up nothing. Let’s have a real conversation,” she said.
When the topics wandered off the special itself, her signature combativeness came out.
Me: “What’s the status of your lawsuit against Netflix?”
Mo’Nique: “What I will say is we’re going to see how it plays out.” She adamantly shut down any attempt at any follow-up questions.
Me: “Do you feel there is any reconciliation with Lee Daniels, Oprah or Tyler Perry?” [She has also feuded with Whoopi Goldberg and Steve Harvey.]
Mo’Nique: “Of course. Do you know how powerful it is to say I’m sorry… If those three people ever get courageous enough to say we owe this woman and her husband [Sidney Hicks} an apology. Of course, I still love these people. I don’t hate these people. They’re still brothers and sisters. It would have to be a public apology, not just private.
Me: “Why does it have to be public?”
Mo’Nique: “Because it’s not the same if you tell me I’ve done nothing wrong privately but won’t say it publicly. I have an audiotape of Tyler Perry saying, ‘You’ve done nothing wrong.’ But he hasn’t said it publicly. Oprah privately told me I did nothing wrong. They have to do this publicly so the public can see just how the powerful operate.”
Me: “But aren’t you powerful in your own right?”
Mo’Nique: “My power is different. I’m powerful spiritually for me and my family. I want to be powerful so I’m strong and can be heard for my children’s children. To say powerful so I can push a button and shut you down. I don’t want that power.”
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SOURCE: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Rodney Ho