The name Sommore is synonymous with laughter and high fashion. Known across the world as “The Queen of Comedy,” Sommore has spent years touring the globe with her distinctive, no-holds-barred brand of comedy, playing in front of sold-out audiences at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, and the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles. Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Sommore (born Lori Ann Rambough), is the daughter of revered poet and longtime Trenton public school educator, Doc Long, and the half sister of Hollywood actress, Nia Long (Boyz in the Hood, The Best Man).
In 1994, Sommore became the first woman to host BET’s “Comic View” and has since carved out an illustrious career in entertainment, appearing in films Friday After Next, Soul Plane, Dirty Laundry, as well as hit television shows, “The Parkers” and MTV’s “Wild ‘N Out.” As Sommore prepares to bring her 30-city Royal Comedy Tour to Trenton’s Cure Arena on January 28th featuring comic veterans Bruce Bruce, Lavell Crawford, Turae, Joe Clair and Dominique, she’s also in talks about bringing an annual comedy festival to the capital city. When Sommore comes to town she will also make a donation to a local charity as a way of giving back to the town that poured so much into her.
Trenton Journal founder and publisher, Kenneth Miles, recently had the opportunity to speak with the legendary comedian, actress, and business mogul to find out what we can expect from her show at the Cure Arena, her fondest memories of growing up in the capital city, and the impact of cancel culture on comedy.
Thank you for sitting down and interviewing with us. We’ve watched your career over the years and we know how much Trenton means to you. Tell us about your show at the Cure Arena. Do you have anything special in the works since this will be a homecoming of sorts?
The show is the Royal Comedy tour. It’s a comedy tour that we created over 10 years ago and every year we go out, we revamp the group. The lineup on this particular leg of the tour will be Bruce Bruce, Lavell Crawford, Joe Clair, and Dominique. Once we leave Trenton, we’re embarking on a 30-city tour. [Trenton] is one of the first dates. So y’all getting it fresh, new, hot off the press. We’re rolling! Trenton will be a special show, because I have more family there. I think this is the audience that I [know] the most people and that brings a whole different energy. So your girl is coming home. It’s gonna be fabulous!
You make a living off of tickling funny bones and bringing joy. I want to know who makes you laugh? Who do you think is funny?
Oh, my gosh. I mean, well, I’m a lover of stand-up comedy. So there’s a whole lot of people that make me laugh. I respect the art so much and I want to make sure I laugh every single day. I mean, I’m a fan of most of the people that are on the show with me. So yeah, I’m a fan of stand-up comedy, period. I laugh a lot.
You’ve done a lot in your career; stand up, acting, executive producing. Do you have any plans for more roles on television and in movies?
Right now I’m doing stand-up comedy specials, which I executive produce myself. So those are the movie roles that I’m playing. I’m playing a stand-up comedian and executive producer of her own stand-up comedy specials. I mean, if a role comes out and I think I’m interested in it, then why not do it?
What are some of your fondest memories of growing up in Trenton?
Oh my gosh. See, I was there back when we had Skippy Jakes on Princeton Avenue before it was Martin Luther King Boulevard. We had the Battle of the Monument back when I was a kid. [The Monument] seemed like it was so tall and so big. That was one of my fondest memories, having the plaza downtown. We had a movie theater downtown, like it was popping! There were bars on every corner…there were factories in the city. The city was always buzzing and something was always happening. Trenton was a money-making town!
We published a story last year honoring the legacy of your father, Doc Long. Did you know the impact your father has on Trenton and with the students who he taught and mentored?
Yeah, well, the good thing about it is I found myself in several situations and [in] several different places, and his students come up to me and they’re like, “Yo, you’re dad really taught me, he saved my life. He’s the reason for me going off into doing different things in my life.” So you know, the thing about education is that it continues to give and seeing that and hearing that, it just seems like his work was not in vain. So, I like that.
You do a lot of touring. When you are not on the road, what is a typical day in your life?
I am what you call a working comedian, which means I tour extensively. I like it that way. So [a typical] day in my life [is spent] preparing for the weekends. During the week, I workout and I write jokes. I prepare my travel and get my wardrobe together for the weekend and prepare to travel on the weekends. I usually travel on Thursdays and Fridays. I work Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and I’m back home Monday. [Then I] get it all ready for the next weekend. So it doesn’t stop. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s like every weekend going to visit your cousins. That’s how I feel, [it’s] like going to see some of your family members.
A lot has changed since you first stepped on the scene with the prevalence of social media and cancel culture. Do you think as a society that we have become too sensitive in terms of humor or telling jokes, and how has that impacted your business?
I don’t think that people are sensitive. I think we’ve always been sensitive. But I think that you have to be careful what you say and where you are saying it. Sometimes it’s misplaced. So because of social media, and your cell phones, you see the way that things are perceived and presented. I think that it just makes people like myself that’s in the comedy business be more creative with what we do and the things we say. Just be more creative with it in order not to offend people.
What would you say has been the highlight of your career thus far?
The highlight is every time I license one of my comedy specials, yeah, that’s the highlight. So right now, I’m on my sixth one. I just licensed it to Netflix. So when it releases in February, that’ll be another highlight for me.
Is there anything that you would like to say to Trentonians and people who live in the surrounding areas?
The show is just not for Trenton, it’s for the surrounding areas. Everyone will have a great time. It’s going to be a magical time in the city. We’re looking to do big numbers that night and we’re looking to maybe have this as an annual comedy festival. So we will try it out. We want to have great numbers and just have a great night and laughter. So, I want everybody to definitely come out. Let’s support it. Let’s have a great night. I’m excited about it. For the first time, I can say, ‘This is my hometown.’ I’m so used to introducing people and being like, ‘Give it up for your very own…” Now, it’s my turn and I like that.
The Royal Comedy Tour comes to the Cure Arena January 28. Showtime begins at 7:00pm. Click the link to purchase tickets.