INTERVIEW: Atlanta’s Mo’Nique on her Showtime special, Netflix lawsuit, terms of reconciliation with Oprah, Tyler Perry

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Credit: MoÕNique in MO'NIQUE & FRIENDS: LIVE FROM ATLANTA. Photo Credit: Susan DeLoach/SHOWTIME.

Credit: MoÕNique in MO'NIQUE & FRIENDS: LIVE FROM ATLANTA. Photo Credit: Susan DeLoach/SHOWTIME.

Originally posted Saturday, February 1, 2020 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

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 comics such as Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer and Dave Chappelle.

Instead, she found a new home for her latest comedy special on Showtime debuting 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.”

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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 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."

Me: “What would you do if you had your own studio or your own network? Could you ever take someone down like that?”

Mo’Nique: “Given you’d have to ask me that question says you’re not paying attention to me. What happens is journalists become fearful and throw softballs. You don’t need to do that if you listen to me. It’s not even in me to do that. If you are coming to a Mo’Nique show and really watching the show, you would have gotten that. The show is nothing but love and uplift.”

At this point, the publicist said, “Last question.”

Me: “Do you feel if you were a man, your level of outspokenness would have been more tolerated or even embraced?”

Mo’Nique: “Oh, honey, of course. Man. Why would you even ask that question? I’m not playing with you.”

Me: "So that was a horrible last question?"
Mo'Nique: "Yes. A horrible question!"

Me: "Okay. So if you're me, what would I ask you for a last question?"
Mo'Nique: "This is what you should know: on February 7, when you turn on Showtime at 10 p.m., if you have a little leakage problem, put on some coverage. I guarantee you will have a situation from laughing so hard. That's what you need to know."

ON TV

“Mo’Nique and Friends,” 10 p.m., Friday, February 7, 2020, Showtime

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