By Flavia Francesquini
“If you are against same sex marriage, don’t marry somebody of the same sex!”
No one approaches controversial issues with more common sense than Wanda Sykes. The fact that she can bring any subject to light, rip it apart and throw it back at us in a way that is both funny and enlightening is a talent that few comedians posses. Intelligent humor is a brand of comedy that Sykes has been performing from the beginning of her career. Whether she is talking about family issues or politics, Sykes has a unique way of gently coaxing her audiences to look at the world from a different perspective.
I recently caught up with the Goddess of comedy during a break in her most recent tour. She started by apologizing for the background noise, “Oh Lord, you can hear the dog? I’m sorry! I should do like my wife, when she needs to talk on the phone she locks herself in her car.” But the sounds behind Sykes reflect a regular day in a home with children, a happy home that is, and I like it, it makes me feel like I know her better. It’s good to know that my dog is not the only one barking at inappropriate times and that I am not alone in my desire to hide from my own child in search of five minutes of peace and quiet. This starts out well, the queen of funny is very approachable.
Part of what makes me a huge fan of her sense of humor is her willingness to express her opinions. That kind of courage combined with her undeniably funny delivery style have paved the way of her very successful career. It’s been a while since she first performed at a Talent Showcase in the DC area. Since then she has ranked amongst the 100 greatest all-time stand up comedians by Fox network. She was also one of Entertainment Weekly‘s 25 Funniest People in America.
In 2009 Out magazine placed her in their annual Power 50 List. That same year Sykes performed for the Annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, an honor that had never before been bestowed upon an African American woman nor an openly LGBTQ person.
No one can forget the hilarious Barb on New adventures of Old Christine, one of many reoccurring roles Sykes has played in various other successful TV shows.
But it is the material she brings to her stand up tours that I love the most. Seeing Sykes in her element is a like being allowed inside her head for a couple of hilarious hours. Her observations on life as a black woman, a mother, a wife and a lesbian have the uncanny ability of bringing the audience together, and regardless of our backgrounds we find ourselves relating to her experiences.
On the phone she sounds just like I expected, friendly, witty and just a little bit frazzled. She is in the middle of a long tour and I wonder if she enjoys all the traveling around, “Are you kidding? I have 2 three-year-olds! Who wouldn‘t want to get out of the house?” But she is half kidding of course, although every mom can use a few nights alone in an air-conditioned hotel room away from family commotion, leaving the children behind for too long is not an easy part of her job, “I do miss them a lot. I was in Australia recently and it was hard, the distance, the time difference… I love being on tour but I do miss the kids.”
Despite the hardships of being on the road, Sykes admits to doing what she loves best, seeing her fans, being in front of a live audience and hearing the room explode with laughter. Hers is one of the few shows that leave with more than memories of a fun night, I always walk away feeling like I have been shown a new angle of a picture I had seen before and it is now funnier and more ironic.
Although Sykes didn’t set out to go across country on a super hero cape using her super powers to get people to laugh and think, she is sure succeeding at doing just that!
If you are on the East Coast, get moving quickly, she will be in Hyannis, Massachusetts on August 15th in Boston on August 16th, then Hampton Beach, New Hampshire on August 17th. But you live in Chicago you say? She’ll be there in September, but not before she stops in Oregon, Ohio and Minnesota.
October will bring her back to Rochester, New York and from there she will continue her tour through Pennsylvania, Georgia, South Carolina, California, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, Wisconsin, Canada and the Dominican Republic. So, look for the location nearest you and reserve your tickets now because you don’t want to be the only person at the office who didn’t see Wanda! You can find Wanda Sykes’ full schedule on http://www.wandasykes.com/WandaSykes_calendar.php
Read Flavia’s complete interview with Sykes in Gay Parent magazine’s September-October 2012 issue #84
Flavia Francesquini is a regular contributor and Assistant Editor for Gay Parent magazine. Photo of Wanda Sykes courtesy of PMKBNC