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NUNN ON ONE: COMEDY Dishing with Wanda Sykes
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2016-03-30

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Wanda Sykes works it with new projects all the time. The comedian who began winning Emmys for The Chris Rock Show soon graduated to appearing onscreen for The New Adventures of Old Christine and Curb Your Enthusiasm. In films she stood out with Monster-in-Law, Evan Almighty and My Super Ex-Girlfriend plus voiceover work in Over the Hedge and Ice Age: Continental Drift.

Her stand-up comedy performance I'ma Be Me was featured on HBO and now she takes a brand-new tour on the road landing her on the Windy City.

Windy City Times: Hi, Wanda. I'm excited you are coming back to Chicago.

Wanda Sykes: Me, too. It is one of my favorite cities!

WCT: What topics are you talking about on this comedy tour?

WS: This is for my special so I am shooting at the end of May out in L.A. This is to get the fine-tuning going on for the special. It will be new material.

It is more of an exploration. I am trying to figure out how I got in the situation I am in. I'm not complaining about it. I am very happy but here I am, a Black woman, lesbian, married to a white woman and I have two little white kids. I am now a minority in my own home! I feel like I am going backward. What happened?

WCT: Did you always talk about topics like racism and LGBT rights?

WS: I guess when you look back at my performances, I would speak up for the underdog or the little guy. I was always attacking the administration. Now it is personal. [Laughs] I'm not just talking for you guys, now I am speaking up for me!

WCT: Are politics a part of the show?

WS: Yes. You kind of have to now with all of this craziness going on.

WCT: We might have a woman in the White House.

WS: Yes. How about that? That is exciting, and maybe she can do something about this slut-shaming. That is just nuts!

WCT: How was it being on [the ABC show] Black-ish? I spoke to Miles Brown from the show.

WS: He's great. They have the best kids. Those kids are amazing. I had such a good time doing episodes over there. It is a good show with a great group. I am in the office and it is just nonsense in there with a bunch of crazy people. I am having fun over there.

WCT: You have a new ABC soccer TV show coming out called Dream Team. Can you talk about it?

WS: We just wrapped the pilot last night. We will see and hopefully get good news about it. My lesbian character is married to a woman. I am an OBGYN and our daughter is on the soccer team.

WCT: How is it continuing to mentor comedians on the television show Last Comic Standing?

WS: I enjoy working with the comics. My producing partner, Page Hurwitz, and I go out and scout. We find a hundred comics that we invite to the show. We watch a lot of comedians. We take care of them and let them know it will be a great experience. We tell them not to worry and no one will make them look bad. They pretty much trust us. With me mentoring them, we only get to air a few minutes here and there because of time, but it last two full days.

It is fun because it also sharpens my skills. It reminds me that I also need to correct some of my bad habits. I love talking about comedy with comics.

WCT: Do you think comics have to be more politically correct these days?

WS: I think mobile phones with cameras have changed comedy. It is not even being politically correct, but we have lost that freedom to get onstage, explore and talk about anything, figuring out what the joke is. Now I think, "I better not say that because someone is going to record it and take it out of context. My career could be over after that."

It is hard to find little rooms and places where one can go out and be totally inappropriate to work on a bit.

WCT: Did you hear about Dave Chappell requiring at his show for people to put cellphones in a special no signal bag?

WS: Yeah, I think that is great.

WCT: Maybe we can do that at your show at the Chicago Theatre.

WS: I know for me as a mom, I have young kids so it would hard for me to give up my phone. I need to be reachable.

My audience might have reminders on their phones on when to take their medicine! I have a little older crowd. My crowd is across the board, I have young and old people.

WCT: Do you have more movies coming out? People love those voiceovers you do on the cartoons.

WS: The new Ice Age will be out in July. Granny is back!

WCT: Would you ever want to host the Oscars?

WS: I don't know. I guess it would depend on the year and what is going on as far as the movies. If it is a year where I am excited about the movies, then probably. Right now, though, I would say no because it is a hard job.

WCT: Are you already planning for gay pride?

WS: I know I am doing a few things being a guest speaker here and there. It is hard because that is right when the kids get out of school. I have a few things booked in June that coincide with Pride.

WCT: We can always use a good grand marshal for the parade in Chicago.

WS: Oh, boy. Well, thank you!

Watch Wanda at Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Saturday, April 9, at 8 p.m. Visit www.thechicagotheatre.com or ticketmaster.com for ticket information .


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