WANDA SYKES.

The Amer­i­can co­me­dian on her up­com­ing one-woman show, Drag Race and a Mon­ster-in-Law se­quel.

Gay Times Magazine - - CONTENTS - Words Sam Damshenas

In cel­e­bra­tion of her first head­line show in Lon­don, we caught up with the Emmy Award­win­ning per­former to dis­cuss why she prefers to in­cor­po­rate pol­i­tics into her shows, her up­com­ing ap­pear­ance on Ru­Paul’s Drag Race, and a po­ten­tial Mon­ster-in-Law se­quel.

In Jan­uary, Amer­i­can co­me­dian Wanda Sykes will make her Lon­don de­but at Union Chapel, where she plans to talk about her fam­ily, her wife Alex Nied­bal­ski, and how “screwed up” Amer­ica is right now in this cur­rent cli­mate.

“I know they say you’re not sup­posed to go to an­other coun­try and bad­mouth your coun­try, but it’s pretty trans­par­ent as far as what’s go­ing on over here,” Wanda tells us. “I don’t think it’s a se­cret. I won’t be say­ing any­thing you guys aren’t al­ready see­ing.”

In cel­e­bra­tion of her first head­line show in Lon­don, we caught up with the Emmy Award­win­ning per­former to dis­cuss why she prefers to in­cor­po­rate pol­i­tics into her shows, her up­com­ing ap­pear­ance on Ru­Paul’s Drag Race, and a po­ten­tial Mon­ster-in-Law se­quel.

Is there any Bri­tish slang you don’t un­der­stand prop­erly?

Some of it, yeah! Some­times I’m like, ‘I didn’t catch any of that.’ That usu­ally hap­pens in the pubs. Maybe it’s the beer, maybe it’s be­cause I’m drunk, they’re drunk, I’m not sure. I miss a lot here. There were a few times and I was like, ‘Th­ese peo­ple don’t sound any­thing like Down­ton Abbey.’

Do you think it’s im­por­tant for co­me­di­ans to in­cor­po­rate pol­i­tics in their stand up rou­tines?

For me, that’s the style I en­joy. I love talking about things, es­pe­cially things that con­cern me. The pol­i­tics to­tally af­fect me; as far as be­ing a breast can­cer survivor, I need health­care. As far as be­ing a les­bian, I need gay rights. As a woman, I need women’s rights. As an African Amer­i­can, there’s racial is­sues. I check a lot of boxes, y’know?

In our cur­rent cli­mate, it feels like co­me­di­ans are the best po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors – do you agree?

I do. In­stead of say­ing, ‘Hey, this is screwed up,’ I do of­fer some type of so­lu­tion. As ridicu­lous as it might be. Peo­ple wanna laugh, they want some­one to tell them, ‘We feel the same way, and let’s hang in there, we’re gonna get through this, and let’s get a good laugh at how ridicu­lous it is right now.’

Has be­ing an openly gay woman of colour ever af­fected you neg­a­tively in the busi­ness?

I don’t think it has. If it has, they didn’t tell me that was a prob­lem. Who knows? I do know that be­ing out and talking about it does help me, as far as be­ing a co­me­dian. I have no fil­ter when I’m on stage now. I’m open and not hold­ing any­thing back, so it’s helped me as a comic.

So, was there ever a time in your ca­reer where you thought, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t talk about this on stage...’

Yeah, that’s when I wasn’t com­fort­able with my­self. When you’re not, you hold back be­cause you’re afraid that peo­ple will turn on you, or ‘Oh, they don’t like me any­more, I shouldn’t talk about this.’ And then you get to a point when you’re like, ‘Screw it. This is who I am and I’m happy, and if you don’t like me, it’s your prob­lem.’

Do you think it’s im­por­tant for peo­ple with plat­forms to be open about their sex­u­al­ity to in­spire LGBTQ youth?

Yes. Ab­so­lutely. I know when Ellen came out, it was hard, peo­ple turned on her. And look at her now... She def­i­nitely in­spired me. She was an in­spi­ra­tion, so for the young kids who are out there stru‘ling, they’ll see, ‘Oh you know what? You can have a life, you can have a re­la­tion­ship, get mar­ried, have kids, and en­joy ev­ery­thing that the world of­fers.’ So I think it is help­ful, es­pe­cially to the youth.

What ad­vice would you give to young LGBTQ peo­ple who are fac­ing chal­lenges you also faced?

For­tu­nately, I was in a po­si­tion where I was an adult, and fi­nan­cially I could take care of my­self. I was in­de­pen­dent. But for kids who are get­ting kicked out of their home, it’s re­ally sad. If you don’t have a com­mu­nity of peo­ple who love you and sup­port you, if you’re in a small town, what­ever it is, you have to make your way to a city that has the sup­port you need. At home, I avoided heated ar­gu­ments with my par­ents, so a lot of times there was quiet, but I was con­fi­dent in who I was, and con­tin­ued to be re­spect­ful to them, but also just lived my life. Once they saw that, ‘Oh, this is who she is and she’s not gonna change,’ it’s on them to make a de­ci­sion of, ‘Do I still want to be in­volved in her life? How much do I love her?’ So they have to make that choice.

You re­cently ap­peared in Hur­ri­cane Bianca 2. What was it like work­ing with Bianca Del Rio?

I love Bianca. I’ve known Bianca for seven years. I first met her out at Fire Is­land in Cherry Grove, and we be­came quick friends. So when she asked me to do this film, I was like, ‘Sure, ab­so­lutely.’

Can we ever ex­pect an ap­pear­ance from Wanda Sykes on Ru­Paul’s Drag Race?

I did an episode. I don’t know if I can tell you which sea­son, they’re so se­cre­tive. It hasn’t aired yet, so it’s com­ing up! I love Ru and I’ve been wanting to do this show for­ever, but the dates just never worked out. And it fi­nally worked out! It was so cool watch­ing Ru work and be­ing a part of the show. Ru is ev­ery­thing. To me, it was like be­ing a bas­ket­ball player watch­ing Michael Jor­dan.

My fi­nal ques­tion: will there ever be a Mon­sterin-Law 2?

Jane [Fonda] and I keep talking about that. Last time I talked to her, she said she had an idea. So, we’ll see. I’d love to do it.

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