Interview: Mo'Nique Brings Her Not-So-Precious Stand-Up Act to the Fox Theatre This Friday

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The Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning actress may have recently been accused of not playing nice with the press, but when it comes to promoting her Spread the Love stand-up comedy tour, she's all heart. (With a side of hot air.)

How difficult is it for you to change mind frames from a very dark, dramatic role like Precious' Mary Jones to the headlining a massive comedy tour? Well, my mind never gets off of comedy. I'm a comedian first. So my mind is always in that mode.

Fresh off her Oscar win, Mo'Nique brings her stand-up act to the Fox Theatre on Friday.
Fresh off her Oscar win, Mo'Nique brings her stand-up act to the Fox Theatre on Friday.

Why do you consider yourself a comedian first? What is it about stand-up that keeps you coming back to the live stage? I love the gift of laughter. And I think laughter is truly the best medicine. Laughter can change situations, definitely. The moment you can laugh at something, it's all good.

You've had a highly successful TV sitcom with The Parkers, a successful talk show with BET's The Mo'Nique Show, and you've won one of the highest acting honors possible. Do you still have any remaining goals you would like to reach as a comic? One of the highest goals for me as a comic was to have a stadium full of people all laughing at the same time. The most I've ever played to is 44,000 people. Now if I could get about a million people all laughing at the same time...

Is that a gig you've got in the works right now? [Laughs] Well, you never know.

Do you have any surprising comedy influences who fans might otherwise not expect? I don't know if there are any that would be surprising to people, but it goes from Richard Pryor to Carol Burnett: Both brilliant geniuses, and fearless.

Are there any up-and-coming comedians you recommend keeping an eye on? [Spread the Love tourmates] Rodney Perry and Tone-X. They are brilliantly funny. They're so full of hope. I'm telling people, for this tour, please wear your Depends. Because you're gonna tinkle a little bit. You've been warned.

What do Rodney Perry and Tone-X bring to the tour? Their sense of style. Their sense of humor. Their sense of realness. It's the type of show that you've got to see for yourself. You know when you want to tell somebody about something that happened at the circus but you just can't explain it? I can't explain it to you. You've got to see it for yourself. But you will be fully, fully filled up with nothing but laughter.

I can certainly understand the show's comedic aspect, and a musical aspect courtesy of DJ Ant, but are you saying the Spread the Love tour contains audio-visual elements or any other type of big-production values? We are old-fashioned comedians, baby. There's a microphone and you. And there will be no fireworks going off or smoke coming up. Just a microphone, the audience and you, baby.

How much time are you doing as headliner? About an hour.

Any particular subjects you'd like to prepare or warn people that you're going to touch on? Here's what I always tell people: If they really want to get to know me, come to a stand-up show. That's me, uncut.

That is one of the benefits of stand-up over acting: You can be yourself. It's no-holds-barred and there's an immediate audience reaction. You don't have to filter through so many people's visions of what the film will be and wait for so many months for people to see it in the theater. It's all right then and there. You hit it right on the nail.

Any final thoughts concerning the city of St Louis or your history with it? St. Louis has always been good to me, baby. I've been coming to St. Louis from the very beginning of my career. The very beginning. I used to do one-nighters where it was just a club that was doing comedy for the night and held about 40 people. So I'd just like to thank y'all for welcoming me back. Everyone just come on out and let's have a good time, baby.

Spread the Love Comedy Tour. 7 p.m. Friday, March 26. The Fabulous Fox Theatre, 527 N Grand Boulevard. $39.50-$59.50. 314-534-1678.

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