Story by Terry Shropshire
Images by Dewayne Rogers
When you peel back the outer layers of the comedic stars of the Royal Comedy Tour, what you’ll find is that their circuitous routes to the pinnacle of comedy are often just as hilarious as the jokes that fall from their lips.
Case in point, and this is no lie: one of the comedians on the Royal Comedy Tour is actually a former soldier who fumbled and dropped a nuclear bomb while rushing to try to get to a concert, inciting a national security panic (you can’t even make that up). Another who got a mathematics degree (what?!?), is a business owner and was a schoolteacher before fleeing those mundane jungles for the cozy confines and craziness of comedy. Another is often mistaken for a cartoon-like character until they really — really — get to hear him lower the comedic boom in person. Another has a classic car collection that could rival that of car connoisseur Jay Leno, while the fifth is part of a growing set of siblings who are making it rain with their jocular observations.
Let’s meet the players in this Royal Comedy Tour, who as Mark Curry says with all due respect, that this is “better than the Kings of Comedy.”Sommore:
When you hear the barbed jokes that shoot out of her mouth like missiles, it’s probably hard to picture the multitalented Sommore as a former schoolteacher and HBCU grad. Sommore, born Lori Ann Rambough, graduated from Morris Brown College at the famed Atlanta University Center with a degree in business and a minor in mathematics. Her post-graduate days are indicative of her entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen: she was an employment consultant (headhunter), an owner of an African-themed restaurant and, yes, she was a schoolteacher for five years.
But while she found success in all of these ventures, Sommore said she couldn’t see herself handcuffed to any of them for the rest of her life. While her pockets got fatter, Sommore said life was about as dry as two-day-old oatmeal. The half-sister of Nia Long said comedy became her creative outlet and then quickly evolved into her life’s mission.
“It was basically going into a new venture. There’s nothing more gratifying than comedy. … [It] sparked a flame in me. … When I write jokes, I think they’re funny, but I don’t know if the audience will think they’re funny. But when they get it, it sparks a fire all over again.”
Sommore is brilliant again in the The Royal Comedy Tour she founded. It is the first time that a female has ever led an-all male national comedy tour. Her qualifications should have let folks know that she could pull it off, despite the initial haters. The “Queens of Comedy” set records on stage and on Showtime (yo, where was their movie?!). She’s accrued all kinds of respect throughout the industry, so when she called the other four comedians to ask them to join her in this tour, they all came running as if she was giving away free money. And, in actuality, she really is. The bundles of Benjamins are stacking high in this the third year for this sold-out tour.
Earthquake: He needs a license for his tongue because it’s deadly. Asking him a question is like watching someone light a firecracker in a crowded elevator. There is no place to go. He is a hard hitter, like a sucker punch to the stomach, and llike that pinch he leaves you breathless with some of the things that dart out of his mouth.
This is the dude, by the way, who during his 11-year Air Force career, once dropped a live nuclear missile when he was loading it into an aircraft. According to Earthquake, the incident caused much panic and was classified as a Broken Arrow, a situation that alerts a large portion of the military, including the president of the United States. He claimed he was rushing to attend a 2 Live Crew concert.
“Every problem that I’ve ever had, you can trace it to a woman,” Earthquake admitted unashamedly, knowing that there would be nothing but scores of women at the famous and infamous Miami rap group’s concert.
Hand Earthquake a loaded question and just watch him go.
What do you make of the Rihanna and Chris Brown girlfriend’s Twitter war? Could it escalate? “Let me tell you something: My mother and father used to fight. My mother used to f— my father up. When she came back with that right hand, left hand and that frying pan, my father was like, ‘aiight, f— it.’ They used to rumble. I never hit a woman in my life, but if you punch me, I’m knocking you clean the f— out.”
What do you think of the GOP race? “They ain’t got a shot. I want it to be Romney. How you going to nominate the person who lost to the person who lost to Obama? Romney lost to McCain. He couldn’t even beat a man with two [good] hands. Man, how you going to nominate the person who lost to the to the n—- who lost to Obama?”
What are we going to do about high gas prices? “Gas cannot be too high, because I still see traffic. If gas was too high, I’d see one car [on the road]. If I owned a gas station, I’d make it $900,000. How you gonna say ‘gas it too high?’ Then stop driving mutha——-. “
Bruce Bruce: Bruce Bruce (born Bruce Church), who brings his ATL flavor to the tour, “is the person at the barbecue who talks about everyone,” said one of his touring comrades. Earthquake added that Bruce Church “is the brother on the porch who makes everyone laugh.”
That is the essence of Bruce Bruce’s success — his everyman comedy style that can take his game into the swankiest of joints, or into corporate functions and thrive equally in both settings. “That is the part of being a professional. You have to be able to play both sides. That’s part of being an entertainer. You have to be able to flip it,” Bruce explains.
And it doesn’t really matter what setting Bruce Bruce is on, whether on stage, in videos or on a movie set, Bruce’s game face is always on. “See, I’m a playa. I’m an international playa from the Himalayas. So ain’t nothing hard. All they have to say is ‘action!’ and, bam, I’m going.”
Many comedy fans point to Bruce Bruce’s hosting of “ComicView” back in the ‘90s as the pinnacle of the popular BET show.
Mark Curry: He has been headlining Vegas shows for a minute now, and that’s where he was when he got a phone call from Sommore asking him to join up with the Royal Comedy Tour. “Sommore called me. And I was doing Vegas. I do Vegas to this day. I headline Vegas. I’m kicking back as a Vegas act. Make sure you let them know and put the shine to these fools. I’m a veteran, fool! So I did one date, and the people loved it, and here we are. So I want to thank Sommore, who was the only one wasn’t scared to take me out on tour. She’s the first one to put me out there like that, so I thank her. She’s great.”
Curry has another thing he wants to let you know. His name ain’t ‘Barney.’ Because of his success with “Hanging With Mr. Cooper,” people have Curry all confused.
“We’ve got to realize I was on ABC television so my comedy changed dramatically. I had to change. I had something about me that kids liked. So I had to change my comedy a little bit with “Hanging with Mr. Cooper.” And then when people saw me, they expected to see Barney or something. The perception of me what that I was like that character on TV. They didn’t know my comedy was like that. They thought I was like a white boy, Byron Allen-type character. I’m from East Oakland, m———-. I’m from the hood. I’m just a good actor, s—. But they wanted me to do this [Mr. Cooper] character, and paid me all this money and I did it.”
“It’s great to work with professional people on top of their game. We’re all headliners in our won right. We know what we have to do; it’s fun. We’re doing big numbers. We’re doing some big stadiums. We’re selling out. It’s a good feeling, there’s a good aura being with these guys.
“I look at it like this: greatness will be found. You don’t have to ask nobody. They’ll see it. They’ll hear about. When you ask somebody, that’s when they want to act shady. When they see it, they’re like ‘oh my God!’ So all we have … keep putting out a great product. And that time is coming. We’re better than the Kings of Comedy. We’re better,” he said before hastily adding. “Rest in peace, Bernie Mac. I would never say that to him. But we’re bringing the heat.”
Antonio “Tony” Rock: is the “hip-hopper” of the crew, as Sommore says, but as Earthquake attests, the comedian-actor’s precociousness and insightfulness in his comedy is what sets him above his peers and makes him a perfect fit for this five-person outfit.
He’s already worked with comedian Marc Curry in the past, and Sommore says Rock comes with an updated comedic game that is fresh and on point.
Rock says he’s honored to be a part of the tour group of people he admires. He’s already proven he’s an astute student of his comedic idols, including his brother Chris Rock, which partially explains why his success is where it is. But, as Curry and Bruce Bruce corroborated, Rock just got it.