Sykes: ‘How did I get here?’
Sunday in Hollywood, the comedian will riff on her personal life, her career and the presidential race
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.”
Standup comedian Wanda Sykes will perform Sunday at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood.