Q&A: Wanda Sykes

Comedian, actress, wife, mother, reputed Philly suburbanite

Fox Picture Group/AP

Why did you settle down in Media? Um, yeah, I don’t do any interviews where I talk about, y’know, I spend time in Media or whatever.

It was family that brought you here, right? Yeah, man, but I get people driving by and stuff, so I don’t confirm or deny that I live in the area.

You played Miss Hannigan in the Media Theatre production of Annie in 2010. Why musical theater? I got to be friends with the director there, and he said, “We’re doing Annie and I have the perfect role for you.” I love theater and always wanted to try my hand in it. I absolutely loved it.

Was it more challenging to sing and dance in front of a few hundred people than to do stand-up in front of thousands? Oh yeah. Because if I mess up doing my stand-up show, I can go back with a laugh and it’s all good. When you’re onstage with a whole cast and they’re depending on you, it’s a little more nerve-racking.

What’s in store for your show at the Keswick Theatre on October 9th? My stand-up is kind of a snapshot of what’s going on. I’ll talk about whoever the dummy of the week is and touch on what’s going on with me personally, like family and kids. We have an election coming up, so I’ll talk about that.

How do you feel about the current political climate? It’s just ugly right now, man. And it’s sad, because there’s real people out there suffering over a bunch of politicians having a pissing contest instead of working together.

Where do you stand on Obama? I still feel good about him, but I have been referring to him as the half-white guy, I gotta say. [laughs] At first I was very proud he was the first black president. Now things aren’t looking good, so he’s the half-white guy.

How’s motherhood? It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it is the most rewarding. Really, if you screw this up, you could go to jail, really. They’re two, so [twins Olivia and Lucas] are into everything.

That’s the age where they’re just old enough to get themselves into life-threatening trouble. Exactly. The other day, Lucas just handed me my laptop. I’m looking at him like, why would you pick that up? It’s like he picked it up and halfway through it he was like, “Aw man, I’m really messing up. Let me just give this to her before I drop this thing.” And it’s also him looking at me like, “Hey dummy, you shouldn’t leave this around. You see what I can do? The next time I’m going for the knives.”

Let’s say you have some free time to enjoy the city. What do you like to do? Hypothetically, of course. [laughs] I like walking around—aw man, what is that park? Rittenhouse Square. There’s a couple of restaurants that I like to hit. Anything Jose Garces, I love. Amada and all that. You’ll catch me at one of his places or Marc Vetri’s place.

I don’t see you hanging at the Liberty Bell. No, no. I don’t do that. [laughs] I’m enjoying the food.


This article originally appeared in the October issue of Philadelphia magazine