Whether it’s on stage or through social media, Wanda Sykes has never been afraid to criticize Donald Trump.
While her fans are more than happy to laugh at her jokes about the president, the comedian’s jabs at the commander-in-chief drew the ire of some audience members at the 2016 Comics Come Home event in Boston. The show, which was held just days after the presidential election, turned into quite the controversy as Sykes reportedly flipped off her boo birds in the crowd.
Despite the tough trip to the area last time around, Sykes can’t wait to return to New England on Friday for a headlining performance at the Women in Comedy Festival in Boston, followed by a gig at Foxwoods on Saturday night. Ahead of her shows this weekend, we caught up with Sykes to talk about her rough Comics Come Home appearance, why she decided to work as a consulting producer on “Roseanne” and more.
Are you excited or worried to perform in Boston again after that contentious Comics Come Home show?
I’m excited to come back. That wasn’t my crowd. I was there as part of a big show. My crowd isn’t Nick Di Paolo’s crowd. Was I surprised? No. Not at all. Come on, Boston has a reputation too. But, I just know when it’s my show, I love the crowds that I get and they’re with me, so I have no worries.
The Comics Come Home crowd didn’t seem happy with your Trump jokes. Does the current political climate still heavily influence your stand-up material?
Nothing has changed my approach to how I put together a set. If the joke’s funny, it’s funny. I do talk about what’s happening and what’s going on in the world and what’s going on in my life. If you’re asking me if I’ve got Trump stuff, hell yeah.
Your views don’t exactly align with Roseanne Barr’s thoughts on the president. Why did you choose to work on the revival and how much did you contribute to the show?
I was in the room for like two days a week, helping punch up stories and jokes. I was really happy with the way things turned out with the scripts. I’m a Roseanne fan. I’m a fan of the show. It saddens me, but it also cracks me up. Extreme anything is nuts. Extreme left is just as nuts as the extreme right. The only way that we’re going to patch things up in this country is the people in the middle got to start talking to each other instead of just battling it out on Twitter. “Roseanne” speaks to so many people. They just want to be entertained. It kills me when people say it’s a pro-Trump show. Absolutely not. These people are struggling. They’re sharing medication. Trump’s America, they’re still broke as hell. Trump takes credit for everything and we can’t control that.
And Roseanne, when my production company brought back “Last Comic Standing” for NBC, they told us you got to get big judges. Roseanne was the first one we reached out to. She was chilling in Hawaii. She met with us and we had dinner, and she’s hilarious. I’m a lesbian, my producing partner is a lesbian, and she was like, “I want ya’ll to succeed. I want to help you out. I want to win.” I mean, Roseanne is just an old lady who shouldn’t be on Twitter. She believes everything she reads because, when you’re from that generation, you read stuff, you’re like, “Well, what do you mean it’s not true? I’m reading it!” Look, I accidentally followed Justin Bieber for 30 minutes and it scared the s–t out of me.
Your 2003 sitcom “Wanda at Large” wasn’t afraid to poke fun at people on both sides of the aisle. Do we need to see more of that in comedy today?
It can’t be forced, that’s the thing. When it works, yeah, I love shows like that. But to sit down and say I’m going to do a show and it’s going to show both sides, I mean, it has to feel organic.
Would you ever want to take on a leading role in a sitcom again like “Wanda at Large”?
I am looking for something and just coming up with ideas to develop something for myself. I don’t know if it will be like a “Wanda at Large.” That’s just my style, that’s just my taste, so I’m sure whatever I come up with, there’s going to be room for me to shoot off my big mouth and give my opinion. I think that’s what people expect of me.