Sykes: ‘How did I get here?’

Sun­day in Hol­ly­wood, the co­me­dian will riff on her per­sonal life, her ca­reer and the pres­i­den­tial race

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - SPOTLIGHT - By Rod Stafford Hag­wood

South Florid­i­ans can get a sneak peek of Wanda Sykes’ next TV spe­cial, “What Hap­pened … Ms. Sykes,” when the standup co­me­dian per­forms Sun­day, April 17, at Hard Rock Live in Hol­ly­wood.

“Yes, I’m do­ing the spe­cial for [pre­mium ca­ble chan­nel] Epix in May,” Sykes says from her home in Los An­ge­les. “Ba­si­cally, it’s the show I’m do­ing there. I’m just try­ing things out.”

Sykes will tape the spe­cial May 21 at the Ace Ho­tel in Los An­ge­les. It is sched­uled to air Fri­day, Oct. 21.

“I’m ask­ing, ‘How did I get here?’” Sykes ex­plains. “I’m a gay, black woman, and I grew up in Vir­ginia, not the most pro­gres­sive state, at all. And you know I was raised in the church. I went to Hamp­ton Univer­sity, a his­tor­i­cally black col­lege. I was a AKA [Al­pha Kappa Al­pha, the old­est soror­ity in the U.S. for black women]. I’m a breast can­cer sur­vivor. And now, I’m mar­ried to a white woman from France with two white kids. How did I get here? I cover all of them just try­ing to fig­ure out what hap­pened.”

Some­where in there, Sykes man­aged to fit in movie ap­pear­ances in “Mon­ster-in­Law” and “Evan Almighty” and an­i­mated films “Rio,” “Over the Hedge,” “The Barn­yard” and “Ice Age: Con­ti­nen­tal Drift.” She also has co-starred in tele­vi­sion se­ries such as “Black-ish,” “Al­pha House,” “Curb Your En­thu­si­asm,” “The New Ad­ven­tures of Old Chris­tine,” and starred in her own re­al­ity and talk shows “Wanda Does It” and “The Wanda Sykes Show.” Sykes was an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of “Last Comic Stand­ing,” and the show for Epix will be her fifth standup spe­cial.

Re­cently, Sykes an­nounced that she will co-star with Justin Long in the ABC com­edy “Dream Team.”

“It’s a sin­gle cam­era sit­com based around a girls’ soc­cer team,” she says. “But it’s more about the adults, more about the par­ents. I got in­volved be­cause of Kari Lizer. She was the cre­ator of ‘The New Ad­ven­tures of Old Chris­tine,’ so I have a his­tory with her. She’s been in that sit­u­a­tion with her kids play­ing soc­cer on a higher level, [but] be­ing in that en­vi­ron­ment with peo­ple whose paths would never have crossed thrown to­gether on week­ends and hav­ing to deal with each other.”

Be­fore that pi­lot airs, she has the re­lease of the next in­stall­ment of the “Ice Age” fran­chise, “Ice Age: Col­li­sion Course.”

“Yeah, that comes out in July,” Sykes says. “We started that a cou­ple of years ago. I was so happy I came in when I did. Usu­ally, they stop around three, but they are do­ing so well. Now, I’m say­ing, ‘When are we go­ing to do No. 6?’”

In ad­di­tion to her per­sonal life, she plans to work top­i­cal ma­te­rial, in­clud­ing the pres­i­den­tial race, into her standup act.

“Don­ald Trump is the fron­trun­ner of the Repub­li­can party to be the pres­i­dent of the United States,” she says. “For me, he’s the pres­i­dent of the Hair Club for Men. Re­ally, though, how did this hap­pen?”

Sykes says it can take her years to de­velop ma­te­rial for a standup show.

“It’s a long process,” she says. “I start just writ­ing jokes, try­ing to come up with the idea. Maybe it’s the news of some­thing that hap­pened in my life, and I start from that. What I end up with is a bunch of jokes, stuff that’s re­ally funny to me. But it takes awhile to get a col­lec­tion of ma­te­rial that says, ‘OK, this is where I want to go. This is the story I want to tell.’ Then, you pull jokes that fall un­der this story I want to tell.”

In ad­di­tion to her per­for­mances, Sykes and her fam­ily will spend time in South Florida just re­lax­ing.

“My wife and I like to take a boat out and go fish­ing,” she says. “It’s just so re­lax­ing, be­ing out there on the wa­ter and try­ing to catch some­thing. I ac­tu­ally caught some nice yel­low­tail tuna. We like to do that, and we also like to go down to the News Café [in Mi­ami Beach]. That’s usu­ally my last meal be­fore I pass out. I like go­ing there, be­cause it’s the one place I can peo­ple-watch where peo­ple are so into them­selves they don’t even watch me. New York and South Florida, that’s the only two places you can do that. And in South Florida, there’s al­ways a mo­jito some­where nearby.”

WANDA SYKES/COUR­TESY

Standup co­me­dian Wanda Sykes will per­form Sun­day at Hard Rock Live at the Semi­nole Hard Rock Ho­tel and Casino in Hol­ly­wood.

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