Mo'Nique? Please, no mo'


Maybe I'm being a stickler about this, but it should be a rule: You really shouldn't start giving your Emmy speech (or your Lifetime Achievement speech) until you've actually done a show ... or at least part of a show ... or at least told one joke or sung one song or interviewed one person.

This feeling built inside me as I watched the dismal debut of "The Mo'Nique Show," which airs at 11 p.m. weekdays on BET.

Mo'Nique came out and kept saying how wonderful it was to be there, what a symbol of dreams-come-true this was, etc. She praised band members and the DJ and her sidekick. She brought up a woman who had a talk show in the 1960s. She accepted an award from the mayor of Atlanta. By now, we were 17 minutes in and the show hadn't really started. Mo'Nique, a comedian, hadn't told a single joke, asked a single question, introduced a single song.

She did eventually have two guests (Steve Harvey and Monica) who wisely remained low-key alongside the overwrought host. She introduced a pretty good singer. And then, after more speeches, she said goodbye; she never did tell a joke.

Let me quickly add two things:

1) Yes, I did watch tonight's "Jay Leno Show" first and found it to be pretty good. Jamie Foxx was an excellent guest and the monolog was quite good; so was Brian Unger's "correspondent" piece, visiting Arlington, Texas, which one magazine has named the least-healthy city in America. As usual, the "Ten at Ten" bit (this time with Joe Torre) was poor and the "Headlines" (each Monday) were hilarious.

2) I realize I'm not the target market for "The Mo'Nique Show," but I don't feel that's an excuse. A show can appeal to one audience without driving away another. Arsenio Hall never put up a "for blacks only" sign and George Lopez (who starts competing with Mo'Nique next month) doesn't plan on being for Latinos only. "Sesame Street" isn't just for kids; Leno isn't just for silver-haired car buffs. Good shows can target one group without driving away another. Bad shows spend a lot of time simply congratulating themselves.