Wanda Sykes: “My wife loves it when I talk about her onstage”
DIVA chats to the hilarious stand-up comedian ahead of her London show
Wanda Sykes is one of my very favourite celesbians. Her comedy is hysterical, she's pals with Ellen, and it's 10 years since she came out at a Proposition 8 rally in Las Vegas with the inspiring words: "Proud to be a woman, proud to be black, and proud to be gay".
What a legend. She's also coming to London in January to perform her must-see solo show. It's bound to be incredible, because everything she does is. And when I catch up with her on the phone, I discover she's just as warm, funny and delightful in real life as she is onstage.
DIVA: The world is a crazy place right now. How important is it to you to use your platform to talk about politics?
WANDA SYKES: Oh, it’s extremely important for me - politics, trying to get more people involved and active and getting them out to vote. I believe that the majority of people in this country are good, decent people and they want to do the right thing. If we can get all those people out to vote then we’ll just make the country a better place for everyone.
Do you believe comedy has the power to change the world?
Hmm… I do, I do. It depends on the comic, if the comic is involved in social issues and is putting positive messages out there. Of course, it’s our job to be funny and make people laugh. But my favourite comedy is the style that makes people think and also when I get to learn a little bit more about the comic and get a sense of who they are, other than just a funny person.
I’ve got to say, you and Alex are one of my favourite celesbian couples. You’re just so fantastic together.
[Laughs] Oh, thank you.
What does she think when you talk about her in your act?
She loves it when I talk about her onstage. In this new show, I do talk about her and the kids. Actually she went to the show Sunday night and she gave me the thumbs up. She’s quite happy with it!
Are your children old enough to know that you talk about them in your comedy?
No, they aren’t old enough to know that on my live shows I talk about them. But when I’m on Ellen, I talk about them, so they seem to enjoy it.
I love your series Unprotected Sets. It’s so brilliant the way you support up and coming comics. What advice do you give them?
I always tell them to keep writing and to dig deeper. Every opportunity that you get to go onstage, take advantage of it. Don’t waste it. I always try to remind them to be diligent with your craft and just be aware of the audience. Respect them and they’ll hopefully respect you.
Wanda is performing at London’s Union Chapel on 11 January 2019. Tickets are available at livenation.co.uk. And look out for a longer interview with Wanda in our January issue, on sale 21 December via divadirect.info.
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