Checking in with Wanda Sykes on ‘Roseanne,’ humor in the age of Trump and more - Las Vegas Weekly

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Checking in with Wanda Sykes on ‘Roseanne,’ humor in the age of Trump and more

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Sykes hits Treasure Island on June 29.
Illustration: Photo by: Chris Pizzello / AP

Are you excited to be back in Las Vegas? Absolutely. I love Vegas. When you do shows in Vegas you get such a nice cross-section of everybody, people who are actually from Vegas and all the people visiting. It’s spectacular. I might try to get in early or stay an extra day to see what’s in town and catch a show.

Your Oh Well tour is keeping you busy, but you’ve got lots of other active projects. I’m also shooting some episodes of a new show for Comedy Central, and my production company has a couple of shows in development. And we already shot [new movie] Friendsgiving and coming up is The Wedding Year.

You quit working on the revival of Roseanne after Roseanne Barr’s infamous tweet. How did you initially get connected to that show? I was a fan of the original show, but I also had a connection with the showrunner Bruce Helford, who was the showrunner for my sitcom. I adore Bruce, so when he told me the whole cast had signed on and was I interested in consulting for a couple days a week, I was like, sure, sounds great. I get to write for Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman, are you kidding me? And I had worked with Roseanne a little when we brought back Last Comic Standing, and she was an all-around sweetheart on that show. I was just very disappointed and disturbed and hurt by what happened.

Does this extremely polarized political climate make it difficult or restrictive to speak freely as a comedian? It’s there. You do feel it. But if you come to a Wanda Sykes show you should know what you’re gonna get. There are people who voted for Trump, and you can do Trump jokes and they can laugh at it, basically because they have money. It’s all about economics for them, so they can laugh at the joke because they’re good. But to me, it looks like the people who aren’t laughing are too invested in this dude. They need this to work out. They see it falling apart, but they can’t laugh at it.

How has all this affected your stand-up act? Are you doing more political stuff than you normally would to address these issues? I so wish things were great, that none of this bad sh*t was happening and then I could just get up there and talk about me, my favorite subject. But I have to address what’s happening. I have to talk about school shootings and police shooting unarmed black people and all these things or I’m not doing my job. Comics were born out of going, “Hey, look, this is screwed up, this is not right.” If I don’t do it, I feel like there’s an elephant in the room. I wish I could get up and talk about the Kardashians or a bunch of bullsh*t. That would be so easy to do. “Hey, dogs do this and cats do that.” That would be fine. But that’s just not my thing.

WANDA SYKES June 29, 9 p.m., $52-$87. Treasure Island Theatre, 702-894-7722.

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Brock Radke

Brock Radke has been writing about Las Vegas for almost two decades. He currently serves as editor-at-large covering entertainment and ...

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