Wanda Sykes doesn’t have to do stand-up comedy tours anymore.
Between her TV work on CBS’ “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” movie roles that put her on the big screen next to Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda (“Monster-in-Law”) and Steve Carell (“Evan Almighty”), and dreaming up and writing her own comedy specials and series, Sykes certainly has plenty to keep her busy.
But she’s not going to give up stand-up anytime soon.
“I love it,” Sykes says, calling from her Los Angeles home. “It’s where I started and it’s where I feel most secure, especially after going through the strike. It’s like, `This is nonsense. I’m going to stay with the stand-up where I can always eat.’ After 20 years, the angry mob has been whittled down to maybe one or two jackasses. Most of the people there are there to see me. They still have expectations, but it’s fun. I enjoy it now.”
And given the current state of the world, she says stand-up is particularly easy these days. “Anytime it’s an election year is a good time for stand-up,” Sykes says, adding that she had a hard time making up her mind about which of the Democrats - Sens. Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama - would get her support.
“I’m a black woman - Hillary or Obama, I’m torn,” she says. “I really just tried to narrow it down to which is giving me more problems in my life, being black or being a woman. ... I ended up voting for Obama because there were just too many Hillarys showing up and I don’t think the real Hillary has been shown. There was Crying Hillary, Mean Hillary. Then there was Whiny Hillary. I’m just worried that Slutty Hillary’s gonna show up. Nobody wants to see her grinding on the Liberty Bell.”
However, whoever succeeds George W. Bush as president will be a letdown from a comedy standpoint, Sykes says. “You can’t get any funnier than Bush,” she says. “But we’re past laughing at him now.”
For the next few weeks, Sykes, 44, says she is happy to focus on writing for various projects and working on her stand-up act because that takes her mind off waiting to find out if “The New Adventures of Old Christine” will get picked up for another season.
“I love doing the show and I love Julia (Louis-Dreyfus, who plays Christine) and the rest of the cast,” she says. “Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to play some more.”
Doing “Old Christine” feels like more of a break from the rest of her work than an actual job, Sykes says, adding that it is far less stressful than her time on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” “It’s written. So it’s, `OK, I just gotta remember these lines,”” she says. “`Curb’ was fun while I was doing it, but I didn’t realize how draining it was. Because that’s improv, you’re really expending a lot of energy thinking, `Oh, I gotta think of something funny.’ So I’d be on my way home and I’d only been working a couple of hours but I’d be like, `Man, I feel like I’ve been in a fight.’”
Her recently burgeoning career as a voice-over actor, with parts in “Over the Hedge” and “Barnyard” and her ongoing role in Nickelodeon’s “Back at the Barnyard” series, is also turning out to be a lot of fun for her.
“I love doing voice-overs because there’s no hair-and-makeup, no wardrobe, they just need my voice,” she says. “And I really enjoy doing `Barnyard’ for Nickelodeon because all these kids recognize me just from hearing my voice.”
Yet nothing compares to stand-up. Sykes says she’s worked out material for 75 to 80 percent of the show and “the rest I’m still playing around with.”
“I love that it really all depends,” she says. “If something happens on my way to the show, I’m gonna talk about it.”