What started as a dare has blossomed into a lifetime of laughter for award winning comedian Monique Angela Hicks — who goes by the stage name “Mo’Nique,” and this week her award-winning talent will be on display in Killeen.
Mo’Nique remembers her brother setting out to be the comedian of the family, but when his first attempt at a comedy club bombed, she was an outspoken critic.
“I told him not ever to embarrass the family like that,” Mo’Nique recalled with a laugh. “Then I told him what I would have said if I had been on stage.”
What flowed forth was about 20 minutes of material — which her brother dared her to take on stage.
“I got my first standing ovation, and I got hooked,” Mo’Nique said. “It’s therapeutic — walking up on that stage has at times saved my life — it’s very healing.”
She gained fame as a member of the Queens of Comedy and has developed a strong acting career with roles in movies such as “Precious,” “The Parkers,” “Phat Girlz” and “Welcome Home Roscoe.”
Mo’Nique won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2010 for her performance as an abusive mother in “Precious.”
The mother of four also received a Grammy Award in 2002 for Best Comedy Album.
Mo’Nique said sharing her life story through comedy allows her to enjoy people laughing with her, and not just at her, and the healing power of laughter keeps her going.
“When I’m on that stage and I see people laughing and walking out differently than they walked in, it’s healing,” Mo’Nique said. “And 32 years later, laughter still heals the soul.”
Pinpointing the source of her inspiration would be impossible, Mo’Nique said, since she draws inspiration from everywhere — including her family and friends and situations she encounters in life.
“I was down at the harbor and saw an amazing brother playing music on buckets — he was beating buckets,” Mo’Nique said. “He told me his story and he keeps going; that motivates me and inspires me.”
Mo’Nique also recalled some encouragement she got from the late comedian Richard Pryor’s daughter.
“She said, ‘You’re the only other person I’ve seen do it like my daddy,’” Mo’Nique recalled. “That’s inspiring.”
Local residents can hear Mo’Nique’s comedy at Twice as Funny Comedy Lounge in Killeen at either 7:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. this Friday and Saturday. Masks are required in the lounge, according to the website.
“I’ve never been to Killeen — when I get to Killeen it will be new for me to see them, just like it’s new for them to see me,” Mo’Nique said. “I’m looking forward to being in front of my brand new babies — and in front of the troops. Knowing that there are soldiers coming from Fort Hood who are dedicated to serving their country.”
Mo’Nique encourages everyone to come dressed for this weekend’s theme: “Camouflage.”
“In case something pops off, they’ll be ready,” Mo’Nique said with a chuckle.
Darryl Walker and Sharon Hines are entering their fifth year at the Twice as Funny Comedy Lounge at 4505 East Veterans Memorial Blvd.
“This is our biggest show ever,” Walker said. “All the hard work and the struggles and the never-quit attitude has gotten us to where we are. This is a remarkable achievement.”
Hines agreed attracting big-name comedians is a testament to the hard work they have poured into the business.
“It’s an epic accomplishment,” Hines said. “We’re going to continue to make things happen for the city and to bring laughter to the community — that’s our main focus. In this time of COVID, there’s so much going on in the world but if we can do our part and bring stars like Mo’Nique, that is what gets me up in the morning.”
Hines said she enjoys working behind the scenes with Walker, and while it is not always pretty, working toward a common goal keeps them going.
“That’s why we’ve made it this far,” Hines said. “As long as we have the same goals in mind, to bring great acts to the community, that’s what we’re striving to do.”
Walker said Hines’ passion keeps him going. She will get the building painted, and it motivates him to get the floors painted.
“Working in the business comes from the motivation I get from her,” Walker said. “She inspires me to work harder and do more.”
Pouring back into the business is important to the duo.
“Touching up the bathrooms, making the green rooms a place a star would want to hang out — not just for the customers, but for the stars we bring to town,” Walker said. “We love what we do — and everybody does also, so that keeps us motivated to move forward.”
For more information, go to twiceasfunnycomedylounge.seatengine.com.