Com­edy Wanda Sykes

The Guardian - G2 - - Live Reviews - Brian Lo­gan


Union Chapel, Lon­don

The first half hour of Wanda Sykes’ maiden Lon­don gig is the big­gest-hit­ting an­tiTrump tirade I’ve heard yet on a com­edy stage. It’s not telling us any­thing we don’t know, it may not change a sin­gle mind, but, boy, is it funny, as Sykes ratch­ets up her dis­may at, and dis­dain for, every­thing the pres­i­dent says, does and is.

Maybe it’s fun­nier be­cause she’s 54, an age when life holds fewer sur­prises. Be­cause Sykes plays these rou­tines – af­ter the Brid­get Christie fash­ion – as if she just can’t be­lieve what she’s wak­ing up to ev­ery morn­ing. There’s a fine joke about Trump in­fect­ing all his cronies with crim­i­nal­ity, an­other about what we can read into the toi­let pa­per stuck to his shoe. One gag con­sid­ers POTUS’s age­ing ef­fect on the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion (“he has cracked black!”); in an­other, Sykes imag­ines her­self as Stormy Daniels, but pay­ing rather than re­ceiv­ing hush money.

Char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally, she doesn’t set­tle for one big laugh from that joke, but in­flates it ad ab­sur­dum – in pro­por­tion to Trump’s ab­sur­dity – un­til she’s protest­ing her in­no­cence in heaven. It adds up to a ter­rific first third of her show, which then dif­fuses into wider per­sonal and cul­tural ma­te­rial, and feels more ram­bling the longer it goes on.

There are still big, distinc­tive laughs, as Sykes shares her mixed feel­ings about bring­ing up two white chil­dren, or ad­dresses the un­sex­i­ness of sleep ap­noea.

In a rou­tine on Los An­ge­les earth­quakes, she mocks her un­pre­pared­ness then pro­poses her­self, in a strik­ing mock-heroic image, as the city’s bat­tle-scarred saviour. Sav­ing us from Trump won’t be so easy – but Sykes at least ad­min­is­ters a po­tent tonic.

Anti-Trump tirade … Wanda Sykes

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