Baltimore's Mo'Nique hitting it big

Comedy: The full-figured diva has gone from doing stand-up routines in her own club to a role on a coming episode of `Moesha.' There's no stopping her now.

Radio and Television

April 21, 1999|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

Mo'Nique has big plans.

Actually, Mo'Nique's always had big plans, whether as a full-figured model or as a stand-up comic whose routines play off that full figure.

But the Baltimore native, who abandoned Charm City (and the comedy club she had opened at Liberty and Fayette streets) to seek fame, fortune and a high-profile career on the West Coast, finally has an opportunity to take that next big step. Tuesday, she'll be featured on an episode of UPN's "Moesha" (8: 30 p.m.-9 p.m., WUTB, Channel 24) in a role network executives have said may lead to a series of her own.

"They told us we'll know May 20," Mo'Nique says from her home in suburban Los Angeles, clearly anxious about her prospects -- and her chance for a career that won't have her traveling from one tour stop to the next. "For stand-up comedians, our goal is to hit TV or the big screen. That's what you aim for. No one wants to be a road junkie forever."

Mo'Nique will be playing Nikki Parker, the mother of series character Kim (Countess Vaughn). In the episode, Mrs. Parker manages to take enough time from her door-to-door cosmetics sales job finally to earn her high-school degree, then horrifies Kim when she decides to continue her education and join her daughter at the local junior college.

"She's a full-figured diva, a make-up princess," Mo'Nique says of Nikki. "She's a young mother; she had a daughter when she was 16 years old. She's very cool, very down to earth."

Not coincidentally, that sounds a lot like Mo'Nique. "Yes, she's a full-figured diva, such as myself. I have two kids. The whole way she dresses, her whole attitude, is basically who Mo'Nique is."

And who Mo'Nique is is basically the person you'd see onstage during one of her stand-up routines (a craft she continues to fine-tune at such L.A. clubs as the Comedy Store, the Improv and the Ha-Ha Cafe). She's big, she's brassy, and she loves nothing better than poking fun at herself and others like her. Audiences, she says, love it.

"Being a comic, it's all in how you say it," she says. "If you include them in it, they're going to accept you more. Once I talk about me, it's easy. They're like, `Oh, she talked about herself, go ahead and talk about me.' "

Mo'Nique, who grew up in the Woodlawn area, makes it back to Baltimore and her family about three times a year. But don't expect to see her making a big splash in front of the hometown folks. "I pretty much don't go out when I come back. I like people to greet me like Mo'Nique, and not like, `Ohmygod, there's Mo'Nique.' When I'm home, I like to be with my family."

That could change once she really hits it big, however. When HBO calls her about doing a one-woman show, this is where she wants to film it.

Hopkins expert at Titanic

Hopkins instructor Timothy Weihs will be among a crew of scientists seen visiting the Titanic on Sunday on the Discovery cable channel.

An assistant professor of material science and engineering at JHU, Weihs was among a group who visited the wreckage to try to determine what caused the ship to break apart and sink on that fateful night in 1912.

Weihs was on hand as the representative of Tim Foecke, a metallurgist at Gaithersburg's National Institute of Standards and Technology who theorizes that the ship broke apart because of structurally weak iron rivets used in building it.

Foecke could not arrange to spend the necessary three weeks at sea, so he asked Weihs to go in his place. Both men appear on the program.

"Titanic: Answers From the Abyss" airs Sunday on Discovery from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., with a repeat at midnight.

Pub Date: 4/21/99

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