Sommore – Getting That Old Thing Back
Words + Interview By Tyrone Davis
Sommore is not only my favorite female comedian but she is also one of my favorite comedians of all time, period. I enjoy conversations like these because I have a deep respect for the entertainers I grew up watching and there is so much to learn from them. Personally, it’s one of those things that make what I do fufilling. I’d like to encourage everyone to find whatever it is that you enjoy and make it make sense. Life is short.
How has it been touring with Mike Epps?
This tour kicked off last January and we did 30 cities up front until the beginning of May. We took off for the summer and ended up getting back to it in October. I’m a big fan of Mike Epps so whenever I get a chance to work with him, I’m exited. I’m not one of those people that wait until people die to say, “Oh, he was great!” you know, like people say that Richard Pryor was great?
I believe that when you’re walking amongst greatness, you recognize it at that time. I’m excited to work with him every weekend and to see what he is going to bring that’s new and how the audience is going to respond to him. I’m a fan, first. He’s definitely gifted. I don’t even think he realizes how gifted he is.
I was reading your bio and one thing I realized is that other than what I read at that moment, I don’t know much about you outside of your comedy. I believe a lot of people in my generation are probably in the same boat.
Right. I like it that way. I think that you guys are into the social media era where ya’ll tell everything. I think in entertainment, there has to be a mystique about it. I believe that. Personally, I don’t want to know everything about everybody. I want to like people for what they do.
Right. They say you shouldn’t meet your heros or know too much about them because they may disappoint you. With my generation in particular, I think they have or are trying to recategorize us because we fall on that borderline where we are into the internet, but we are old enough to remember how to operate when we didn’t have it.
So, ya’ll are too old to be doing some of the things ya’ll are doing. That’s what it looks like, lol.
Absolutely, lol. A lot of us are. You were in Atlanta before you started doing comedy, correct? Are you from there?
I just went to college in Atlanta and I started doing stand up there but I’ve lived all over. I’m from New Jersey, I’ve lived in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Texas and I live in Miami now. The beautiful thing about what I do is that I can live anywhere.
Did you start doing comedy during college?
I had graduated from college, I worked for a minute and then I owned my own business. I just had an entrepreneurial spirit. I was a fan of comedy, I loved stand up and I just wanted to try to do it. I read a book called, How To Be A Comedian. The book still exists till this day. I did what the book said to do and it’s been nothing but greatness for me.
Dope. Now, you mentioned the newer generations. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding people being more politically correct in the social media era and comedians are being put to the fire for saying certain things in their routines. How do you feel about that now, being that people are much more sensitive than they were?
We’re in a time now where there are more cameras than ever and people talk slicker than ever but yet people are more sensitive. It’s one of those things that we are just going to have to get over. It’s still freedom of speech.
Do you think that can happen? It’s a slippery slope and I think people enjoy being about to take celebrities down and I think it’s more of a jealousy thing. They see people doing great things and they want to find any reason to pick them apart but it seems like we’re all going to be victims of it if we continue to allow this type of thing to happen.
The thing about it is, I think we’re in a mean-spirited culture. Society is very mean spirited. Every show you look at on television is either a reality TV show where they have a bunch of drama going on and they are arguing or it’s a talk show where all they do is talk negatively about people. Then, they tell the kids not to bully each other. It’s coming back to haunt everybody.
I know someone who watches a lot of reality television. You can’t keep consuming that on a daily basis and it not have a negative impact on you.
Here is the thing about it. When reality TV isn’t real, what does that say? It’s no longer real and everything is scripted. The complaint that the reality show stars have is that when they don’t fight, the show doesn’t show it because it’s not interesting enough. Real life isn’t that interesting. If somebody filmed you all day, people wouldn’t be interested in that.
We’re learning and trying new things but some things work and some don’t. All you can do is not get caught up in the middle of it. Entertaining people is very hard these days. The average person is desensitized to drama and violence. It’s crazy.
I had just watched your stand up, “The Reign Continues” on Netflix a few weeks ago. How do you keep people’s attention when you’re on stage and how to do you approach it in order to keep people laughing?
The thing about making people laugh is that everybody has been funny before. Everybody has had that moment. Being a comedian is when you know the difference between being funny in a barbershop or hair salon or being funny with your cousins. The things I talk about are not the same as what your cousins talk about.
As a professional, you have to know what you can talk about that will hold people’s attention. It has to be universal enough but yet common enough that it can be for everybody and that takes experience. There are certain instincts you have to know as an artist. Secondly, either you have it or you don’t. Just because you do it doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful at it.
Being a woman in this particular field and also a woman who is attractive, how do you manage to do both? There is an old stereotype that says women who are pretty aren’t necessarily as funny. What is your take on that?
I don’t walk around thinking I’m cute and attractive but I think that even society is now taking a different approach to that. What is attractive nowadays is totally different from what was attractive back in the day. I grew up when bowlegs were the joint, lol. Now, it’s ass and the ass ain’t even real. Now, it’s hair and the hair ain’t even real. It’s a whole other world and I’m excited about it. I really am. The way I handle being a woman in this business is by just being true to who I am and I don’t base it on being a woman that is attractive.
The reason I asked is because we’ve heard that stereotype for a long time and I was watching an interview with a female comedian (Von Decarlo) the other day and she mentioned that stereotype as well. Basically, the stereotype says that when women aren’t as attractive, they have to make up for it in other ways like being funny so it’s not very common to see women who are beautiful that have to be funny as well.
What is crazy is that when I started doing stand-up, Hollywood didn’t see black women as funny unless they were really black, fat or unattractive. That’s what they thought was funny.
See, that’s what I meant by that. That’s always been a thing so with you, you’re the opposite of that. How does that work?
Then they’ll say that I’m angry or they’ll say that we’re loud. Here is the thing. It works. I don’t know how it works, but it works. I don’t focus on that.
Gotcha. A lot of comedians end up doing some acting during their careers. Do you enjoy acting as much as stand-up?
No, let me tell you. Stand-up is instant gratification. You get there, you hit that stage, you do your part and you go home. When you do movies, you’re there ALL DAY LONG. Somebody else might mess up their part and you have to start all over again. You’ll shoot one scene 8 times, oh my God. You have to be so patient. Imagine having lunch having a good time and you have to go back to work and play sad. You have to really love it to do it and I prefer stand up. I am a stand-up comedian.
What about working behind the scenes like writing, producing and things of that nature?
I produced all of my stand up specials. I’ve spent my own money on each of them and have done them myself. I’m probably one of the only comedians that have done that. I did it out of necessity. I’m into ownership. I shoot specials. I own them and I resell them over and over and over again.
Do you believe you’ve gotten your just due yet?
Bank of America says “Yes”, but sometimes as a human being I always feel like I can do better. I’m still hungry in it. I’m one of those comedians that still sell out shows. That’s a beautiful thing. I know that there are different levels to it.
What are the demographics of your shows these days? Is your audience growing with younger people or is it my age group and older?
The crazy thing about it is that when I started doing stand up, I was 25 years old so the people watching me were probably older than me. People come to my shows who are older, my age and younger. People tell me all the time that they used to sneak and watch me on ComicView as a kid. The beauty of it is that I’m able to relate to all demographics. I love that.
Speaking of “ComicView”, I was one of the ones watching it as a kid as well. I wasn’t sneaking and watching it but I was watching it. The reruns ran on BET every night, lol.
That was the great part, right?
Yea! BET was…..I don’t know what happen to BET. Anyway, how did hosting the show come about?
It was the vehicle and the venue for comedians to do. It was just a normal progression as a stand-up comedian. You’d do Def Comedy Jam and you’d do ComicView. I was actually in a contest (I’ll never be in another contest ever again) and whoever won the contest had a chance to be the host and I ended up winning. Hosting was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my career because it put me in households every single night and nobody played reruns more than BET so imagine being on TV 5 times a day. It was awesome.
How many seasons did you host?
1 season but if you know anything about BET, if they put a 30 minute movie on BET, they’d string it out for 2 hours.
Yea, that’s why I was asking because it seemed like it was way longer than that.
Exactly, lol. BET is going to milk it.
Also, I’m glad that I’m speaking with you in particular about this. During that time there was a set of skits running on “ComicView” with the Latina lady and D’Militant on there. I don’t remember all of the details. I just remember they were in a hotel.
I remember. I hated that. For some reason, they didn’t think that stand-up comedy was enough. It was called Dewberry Inn or something like that. They just wanted to try something else.
*Note: I had to go look those skits up afterward. It was actually called, “Nuthin But a Woman” and was later retitled “The Blackberry Inn”. I watched a clip and it got me hype and brought back a lot of memories, lol. By the way, that Latina lady’s name is Ada Luz Pla.
What do you have planned for 2019? Anything special?
2019, I just want that old thing back and by old thing I’m talking about my waistline, my hairline, some old dudes, anything. Just that old thing back. Bring it.
Well, I appreciate you for speaking with us.
Thank you, Tyrone Davis. You know you got a famous name, right?
I’ve been hearing it my whole life. I need for people to think of me at some point when they think of that name.
You have a long way to go. That man is legendary.
I know it. Absolutely.
Follow Sommore on Twitter @Sommoresofunny, on Instagram @sommore and Facebook: Sommore.
Photo of Sommore submitted by Sisoyev PR.