He spoke about his latest creation, “LAFFMOBB,” a joint concoction that he created with music/management executive, Arthur Spivak. “LAFF MOBB” is a talent management and production company with a mission to develop diverse talent, new content and original voices.
“I remember being in the car with Russell and Q-tip and Q-tip asked Russell what makes Def Jam Records so different and Russell said everyone was different. L.L. (Cool J), The Beastie Boys, Slick Rick and Public Enemy, everyone was different. So I just took that same formula to comedy,” Sumner said. “I don’t care where you are at in the country. I’ll come to you. I prefer seeing comedians live rather than footage. I want to be the audience and the camera. I want to see what your doing and how you operate on stage. I can look at somebody at a hole-in-the-wall, Sumner said.
Finding and nurturing new talent is a specialty that Sumner possesses. He spoke about how he is bringing his experience and expertise to his new company.
Sumner’s vision for LAFF MOBB is similar to Gordy Berry’s initial dreams for Motown. Motown’s family structure encompassed a unique unity that molded legendary artists, produced movies and sold millions of hit records that every musician yearned to be a part of at that time.
“I’m looking at all these comedians being recycled, recycled and recycled. That’s what’s wrong with comedy today. I really feel like it's time for some new blood, but no one knows how to get it because they didn’t get the first ones. Yours truly did,” Sumner said.
Although a young company, LAFF MOBB has taken leaps above the average entertainment company with it’s hit show on television waves and a series of DVD’s released by EMI Entertainment. An entity of the company, “LAFF MOBB Presents” is a stand-up comedy show that is currently airing on SHOWTIME,showcasing numerous comedians that Sumner discovered and recruited into his company. His credentials of prestige and eminence didn’t slip into his life overnight. With more than 20 years of experience in comedy and entertainment, Sumner learned at a young age about dedication and his days as a child commenced his love for music and comedy.
Sumner has worked hard to build his empire and it started in his younger years. As a child Bob Sumner grew up with his mother working at RCA Records, his father in music management and his uncle as a member of the legendary band, “The Platters,” and his brothers were in a very profitable band as well. Music and entertainment have been a part of his life since the beginning and his love for them have been the essence of his achievements and acquisitions.
“I grew up in the entertainment business. Every week we would go to the Apollo Theatre for Amateur Night as a family. I would see Motown revues and James Brown revenues. On the same shows would always be a stand-upcomedian. So this was embedded in me as young as five-years-old.” Sumner said.
His love of music and entertainment grew with him as his aspirations to make a mark in the industry led him to his first independent paycheck from entertainment when he started spinning records in high school.
“As I matriculated into high-school, since my mom always had records I stated to d.j. . I was an athlete, so I started giving parties and began to make a couple of dollars. I got to see what entertainment was going to be when it was,” Sumner said.
While studying at Seton Hall University to become a teacher, he decided to start a college radio show. The success of his ratings on the show were staggering. He climbed the charts tobecoming the number one college radio station in his tenure and quickly made a name for himself within radio and music arenas. Sumner spoke about his transition in career paths and the unification that they eventually took.
“I was kind of stuck between staying in entertainment, but I also wanted to go into elementary education. That was a dream. I always felt like it wasn’t the kids’ fault it was how they were raised. There were always intelligent kids that didn’t have somebody to talk to. So then I decided I wanted to be a teacher, but I realized I could be a teacher without being ateacher. So that when the radio show came about. I got connected with the campus radio station and I just had this show that became really popular and got really hot. We were the top college radio stations."
“After college I took a job in the corporate world and it just wasn’t me. So that’s when I got into independent club promoting and it led me to jobwith Def Jam Records. I thought I was dreaming because I remember the movie, “Krush Groove,”and I was like, you're not Blair Underwood,” Sumner said. “So one thing led to another, but because I was already in the trenches in the club promotion and comedy, it was so easy for me to send them the Def Comedy Jam pilot.”
From hole-in the-wall venues to small clubs, Sumner has found hidden talent in unknown comedians and brought them to television in some of the most prestigious venues globally. “LAFF MOBB” is leading the scarce comedy shows and has a twist that is unique, placing it in it’s own arena. It offers the perks of longevity to its comedians with in-house management and production; it gives comedians the space for individual creation.
“It’s a one-stop shop for comedy, Sumner said. “I know what it was like when I put Chris Tucker on Def Comedy Jam and then he became Smokey on Friday. I know what it was like before Mo’Nique won an Oscar. Mike Epps and Kevin Hart won contests of mine in the mid nineties. People don’t even know I launched Rickey Smiley and Craig Robinson’s career.
The entertainment connections and credentials of LAFF MOBB’s creator, Bob Sumner are rare. His integrity and joy in other’s accomplishments is rare in a cutthroat industry. He wants his success to rub off on others on his team and those around him. Anyone involved in “LAFF MOBB,” directly or in-directly can secure his or her well being with a prosperous future because of the mastermind behind the project.
“I want to employ all of my friends and family that are going out for a dream. I want to give an opportunity to my people to fulfill a dream andput them in a capacity that makes them happy to wake up in the morning," Sumner said.
Written by: Secrete Stashes
For those of you that may not know “the man” behind Def Comedy Jam, let me introduce you to Bob Sumner. When Darnell, Editor of "Millionaires", first assigned me to the Bob Sumner interview, I was ecstatic and honored to talk to the entertainment mogul and key player in Russell Simmons' “Def Comedy Jam.” Aside from the show, Sumner is known universally for his achievements and expertise in discovering hit comedians and producing Multi-media fortunes. Chris Tucker, Dave Chappelle, Cedric the Entertainer, Bernie Mac and Rickey Smiley are a few of the many comedians Sumner discovered and gave them their first chance to grace the stage and the limelight of "Def Comedy Jam."
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