Wanda Sykes

Florida Theatre patrons prepare for a Dish called Wanda

Where: Florida Theatre

When: February 26th, 8:00 pm

Price: $39/$49/$69

Info: www.floridatheatre.com

Comedian Wanda Sykes is respected for not being afraid to speak her mind and never pulling any punches. Her books, with titles like “Yeah, I said it,” and comedy specials, with names like I’ma Be Me, are pretty much sold as advertised–and that’s why we love her. On February 26th, Sykes will be bringing her never-boring takes on life and society to the stage of The Florida Theatre for the first time as part of three dates in the Sunshine State that were late additions to her current tour.

These days, Sykes material is naturally drifting more to the family side of the spectrum. It’s not that she isn’t as into topical humor as much as before, but she thinks the most humorous stage acts reflect your honest personal experience, whatever that may be at the time. Sykes says that keeping up with the news cycle 24/7 has taken a backseat to more pressing maternal issues like keeping her children from, well, killing themselves. For a comedian as talented as Sykes, the transition is smooth, and the quality of the comedy doesn’t skip a beat, it merely adds to the myriad material that Sykes has at her quick-witted disposal. In fact, she is known for so many different outstanding roles that she never knows which of her characters her fans are going to recognize her for.

“It’s weird, I have different audiences. There’s a group that will come up to me and ask me to curse them out, so I know those are Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) fans. Every time I’m in an airport, someone always comes up to me and says something like, ‘Hey, Wanda, yell at me like you yell at Larry’ or, ‘Hey, Wanda, it’s my mom’s birthday, could you call her and tell her to kiss your ass?’ Why would I do that? I get Pootie Tang fans and they usually smell like weed. [laughs] New Adventures of Old Christine fans. (Barb.) And then there’s my stand-up fans who have been with me for the longest time.”

Not to mention that everyone is recording you at all times now, just chomping at the bit to record something you say humorously out of context so that they can run and take it to TMZ in an attempt to potentially destroy your livelihood.

“That is in the back of your mind when you wondering if you should try this joke out and then you think , ‘nah, cause if I say something that’s not right…if someone records this and takes it out of context…’”

Sykes also has now appeared in eight episodes of Amazon’s Alpha House, a political comedy series written by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau. As usual, Sykes plays a scene-stealing role as Rosalyn DuPeche, a Democrat Senator from Illinois and the next door neighbor of four Republican senators living together in a house on Capitol Hill. You can just imagine the comedy that ensues.

“Yeah, how cool is that? I get to work with Garry Trudeau. I’m saying Garry Trudeau lines. I love working with that cast. It’s fun, I love doing the show. It’s smart, funny. They’re all so talented. John Goodman’s great. It’s so well-written.”

One of my favorite shows that Sykes has done over the years was HBO’s Inside the NFL, where she would oftentimes go into players’ locker rooms and ask them absurd questions to great comic effect, once asking the players of a Super Bowl bound team if they would “actually go home and sleep with your wives tonight” since the biggest game of their lives was the next day and they didn’t need any distractions. In today’s scandal-laden NFL, I couldn’t imagine the league allowing Sykes and her cronies the access to carry out their shenanigans anywhere near the players or coaches, much less in the locker rooms.

“I loved doing that. I so miss that. You know, what happened is they caught on to what we were doing and then they sucked all the fun out of it. They used to give me free rein, like I could do whatever I wanted to do and then they saw the show and kinda saw what we were up to and then they wanted more control over it and it just wasn’t worth doing anymore then. And nowadays I’d have to do all my locker room interviews with a mouth piece and head gear.”

As (house-arrested) parents of young children know, TV (more specifically, binge-watching) can oftentimes become your only form of escapism. After browsing Sykes twitter account for a few moments, I quickly gathered that she was a fan of Scandal, Empire, Game of Thrones, and–The Walking Dead?

“I just like those characters. It’s good writing. It’s also, you know, good to see black women on TV.”

When I followed Sykes on Twitter, an automated prompt appeared and suggested that, “You may also like to follow Kathy Griffin, Margaret Cho, and Jane Lynch.” wtf?

“Why? It’s all women,” said Sykes, “Isn’t that crazy? Okay, other than we’re all female, what else do we have in common? Nothing.”

About Richard David Smith III

writer, lab rat, and purveyor of fine energy drinks. pro Oxford comma.