Q&A: Wanda Sykes Gets Political -- But Not Too Political
Comedic genius Wanda Sykes can slay any room, whether it's a comedy club or at a White House Correspondent's Dinner. Her bold and blunt takes on life (particularly her own in recent years since she's come out as a lesbian) are a refreshing change from what typically makes it to the standup stage. We spoke with her on the eve of entertaining San Francisco on October 20 at Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium.
My editor wanted me to ask you if you would gay-marry her, but I forgot to clarify whether she was asking for your hand or just your assistance in marrying her partner.
Wanda Sykes: [laughs] I'm taken, I'm spoken for!
Have you ever been asked to officiate a wedding?
Um, not seriously, no.
What is your live show like?
It's growing and changing a lot. My show is pretty much a snapshot of what's been going on in my life and I've been touring pretty much for most of this year so it's developing and I really like where it's at right now. There's some politics up top and then it's mainly about my life -- my kids, my wife. It's funny, very funny.
It's clear from the work you did on Curb Your Enthusiasm that you have an ease with improvisation, but how much of the show is plotted out?
I leave a lot of room for the moment. I have a plan, it's kinda mapped out with stops along the way, but there really isn't a direct route. I leave room for detours and I play around a lot. It's really turned into a nice, long show.
Does that keep it fresh for you?
Yes, I love performing and doing live shows. I'm having fun up there and it does keep it fresh. I'm not happy unless there's wall-to-wall laughs.
Have you encountered any topics that you've decided to steer away from a bit as you road test different ideas?
Not really, but because it is an election year, people don't want to come to a political rally. They want to come to laugh. So I've cut down -- it's not an Obama rally, it's veered more toward personal stuff. People want to escape a little bit [from politics].
Are you working on any television projects right now?
I'm doing a political special for Logo, like a comedic roundtable. One has already aired and the second is going to air the night before the election. The first one pretty much just gave info about each candidate but this one will have more comedians on the panel talking about why you need to get out there and vote.
It's understandable why people get frustrated with the voting process and think that their one vote won't count.
For me, it's like, what do you have to lose? Your rights? You should exercise that right thoroughly so you can have a voice. I've always voted. Why not? Get involved!