Wanda Sykes: Still funny as hell


Hilarity, thy name is Wanda Sykes. On September 28, the reigning queen of stand-up comedy breezed into the Orpheum Theatre and left the audience rolling, busting their sides to a one. From the moment Sykes hit the stage, welcomed with a raucous standing ovation, right up until she walked off, sent on her way with same, the ace veteran held a packed house enthralled in the proverbial palm of her hand.

And she didn’t even have her A-game. The Swiss-clock timing she brandished last time through, opening for Tommie Davidson (by the by, burning his shoes off), wasn’t quite as pinpoint. Also, she belabored a gesture, mimicking to the point of tedium a caricature of how French folk smoke a cigarette. It was good for a chuckle the first few times—until she started running it into the ground, then, increasingly leaned on it like the kind of mugging crutch someone of Wanda Sykes’s skill hardly needs in order to get her through a set.

She was, to be sure, pretty damned good.  Where the timing wasn’t quite up to snuff, her delivery—not to mention material—rocked. Ultimately, attitude was all. A natural-born wise-ass who couldn’t give a flying figure-eight whether anyone particularly likes it, she casually strolled the stage, offhandedly moving from subject to subject, caustically commenting on whatever crossed her mind. That included taking transparently racist Republicans to task (the mess she made of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich is one for the books), the problems of being a parent (particularly a black mom with white kids), specifics pertaining to lesbian love, and a barb or two at the expense of straight men (benign but nonetheless beautifully hitting, as it were, below the belt).

The crowd got a kick out of Sykes’s shenanigans. Without end. Carrying her through the weak spots and, of course, substantiating the strong routines—which, no doubt, abounded. 

Not to be overlooked is opener Keith Robinson. Robinson, relying on a keen instinct for both the good and bad in human nature, managing to render even racism funny as hell, is a bona fide, dyed-in-the-wood clowner. He had a ball sending up Asians, white women, black men, and just about every subject he could fit into a half-hour set. This is a headliner waiting in the wings.

All told, the evening was a kick-ass affair.

Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.