Having a keen sense of comedic timing is what first introduced us to funny lady “Sheryl Underwood” – as a finalist in the 1989 Miller Lite Comedy Search; however, through her heightened social IQ, elevated humanitarian perspective, and entrepreneurial spirit, the world has come to respect this savvy humorist for far more than sharp wit and memorable punch lines (… and, I of all people should know, because Sheryl is my BFF … well, at least in my head she is).

Although I’ve honesty shared only one post-performance photo opportunity with the CBS television co-host of “The Talk” (CBS – 2016 Emmy Award-winner for outstanding entertainment talk show), her performance at the Addison Improv (Addison Texas, 2007), this was the moment when I first rendered the estimation of Sheryl being one of the smartest and most original women in television and entertainment.

Behind the electric smile of the petite Arkansas native, exists an artist who has the ability to forge genuine bonds with audiences – by connecting their funny bones to their frontal lobes, and piercing them with a measure of understanding that mirrors her very own. Now… for theTZelement fans and online guests – who have never experienced the energy produced by a ‘Sheryl Underwood’ stand up performance, allow me to figuratively recap the happ’s.

It’s as if you’ve closed your eyes and you’re swaying (step-by-step) down a beautiful navy-blue corridor, and the muffled sound of the 1975 O’Jays classic “Family Reunion” is seeping quietly through the walls. Soon you discover a large white door at the other end of your trek. You reach for the door handle… a spotlight targets you, and a golden microphone drops from the ceiling panel above your head. Never having experienced such an unfamiliar-yet-awesome ritual, you instinctively grab the mic and slowly mutter ‘S.H.E.R.Y.L.’

In an instant, the walls around you collapse, and rows of guest-seating begin to pop up from the floor boards. You soon locate the seat that has your name taped to it (up front of course… like, where else would you sit). Within seconds, you prepare to get your first glimpse of this galvanizing headliner. By this point, the O’Jays track has been amped up to hearing-aid decibels, and suddenly—it happens! Off to the corner of the stage, you see a glimpse of her. The voice of the announcer comes blasting through the sound system, but you’re not really paying attention, because you can’t believe you actually see ‘Sheryl’ (partially concealed by performance curtains). The O’Jays track suddenly fades to black, and you hear the announcer’s call to action… “LADIES and GENTLEMEN, you’ve seen her host the BET comedy series “Comic View”, appear in Master P’s hit movie “I’ve Got The Hookup”, and costar alongside Warren Beatty in the box office film “Bullworth”. She’s a proud member of “Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.”, and she’s here tonight, to be with friends and share a few, laughs. Please, put your hands together and help me welcome to the stage, the incomparable, SHERYL UNDERWOOD!”

Appearing from stage-left, is a petite woman with a dazzling smile that lights up the room; she waves to the audience, and in that moment – the unspoken oath to become a lifetime member of the “Sheryl Underwood Circle of Friends”, is silently pledged by every person in the room. The only thing she asks in return, is for fans to enjoy the show, and have enough money to cover their own tab (what can I say, she keeps it real). The experience of a ‘Sheryl Underwood’ stand up performance is in a word, unique. It starts with the anticipation of being entertained, and ends with a convulsive roar of crowd laughter, that confirms a sharpening of the human perspective (take me for instance, I’m still reeling from the hilarious dietary disclaimer she gave our crowd, nearly 10-years ago).

Beneath the high energy performances and guest appearances, our friend Sheryl is an unshakable business-woman. She’s about the business of building a multi-media empire one relationship at a time, through hard work, honesty, partnerships, and generosity [The Talk – Emmy award-winning CBS television series | Pack Rat Productions – Owner, CEO| Pack Rat Radio – Owner & Host | Pack Rat Foundation For Education (PRFFE), HBCU initiative – Founder | Sheryl Underwood Radio – Host | Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. – 23rd International President | Steve Harvey Morning Show – Weekly Contributor & Guest Host | TheTZelement – Featured Spotlight Entertainer | Young & The Restless Daytime Drama, re-occurring character appearance | “The Odd Couple” – CBS Comedy series, character ‘Diane’ | Kimberly Clarke – Depend brand ‘Underwareness’ – spokeswoman].

When I think about Sheryl’s grind and resiliency, it brings to mind an old southern fable. It’s the one where two men enter the church foyer after being out in a rain-storm. As they step inside, a small boy approaches the man who appears dry, and asks… “Mister, why didn’t you get wet like the other guy?” The man paused, then whispered—“Son, you never have to look like you’ve been in rain-storm, as long as you know how to hold your umbrella.”

Now, I doubt if Ms. Underwood has heard this fable, but through her celebrity platform, she has shared some of her own trials with studio audiences and viewers who watch from home. Her level of candor is proof positive she respects the collective components of entertainment known as ‘Show Business’, and realizes neither ‘the show’ nor ‘the business’ aspects are always pretty or favorable.

Beneath the blemishes of being an A-list celebrity, the “Celebrity Family Feud” star, has the chops to be considered comedic royalty, because she embodies a life that epitomizes royal distinction (both in word, and deed). When we see Sheryl seated beside her stellar panel of co-hosts: Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, and Aisha Tyler (discussing heart-felt and sensitive subject-matter), please do not mistake this woman for a shrinking violet. She is formally educated, and possesses a benevolent heart that shows up for her fellow man. Sheryl is not afraid to tackle taboo topics, forego hair and make-up sessions, or put her reputation on the line for what she believes in; which is most deserving of theTZelement spotlight.

TheTZelement proudly crowns Ms. Sheryl P. Underwood, as the “Queen of Candor & Class”. May she receive this honor warmly and adopt it openly – as she continues to spark conversations that affect change and spawn unity. As she slips into the cloak of her new moniker, it is our hope that she continues to avail herself to the art of humbleness, by never allowing the honesty and humor found within her God-given crown to fade.

Sheryl, you are a Q-U-E-E-N with no equal. Sally forth, and continue to R-E-I-G-N!

Honorary BFF,
—T.J. Speaks