'The Wanda Sykes Show' premiere: Trying too hard for too few laughs


Wanda Sykes is terrific: at ease and bawdy; The Wanda Sykes Show is awkward: self-conscious and constrained.

At least, that’s what last night’s premiere episode was like. Sykes delivered a scattershot, eight-minute opening monologue that tried to establish her rebel credentials by attacking the network on which she appears: “Let me be the first person on Fox not to pick on President Obama.” (Intentionally confusing the Fox entertainment network with the Fox News Channel didn’t help the weakness of the joke.)

A lot of pro-Obama jokes followed, which fit the definition of the cliche, “preaching to the choir”: her studio audience clapped dutifully at every slap at targets like Rush Limbaugh and George W. Bush, but they didn’t really laugh very hard. Sykes also made the mistake that The Jay Leno Show does too frequently: illustrating punchlines with big pictures behind the comedian. That’s just beating an already-dead horse.

Speaking of horse cliches, Sykes did an out-of-the-studio sketch about buying environmentally-sound sex-toys. Sykes invented a “solar-powered vibrator” and “reuseable condoms,” saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him use a reuseable condom.”

The final segment was a panel of guests consisting of 24‘s Mary Lynn Rajskub, Brothers‘ Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, and Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan. Unlike Bill Maher or Chelsea Handler’s similar panels, these guests were permitted to sip alcoholic beverages, but the martinis and wine did help the quality of the humor. Ostensibly playing off events in the news, topics included rich people using their wealth to travel in outer space. Mitchell’s comment was that if he had that kind of money, he wouldn’t leave Earth’s orbit, he’d “spend it on weed and hookers.”

One should never count out Wanda Sykes; she’s too talented. But she’s got to get away from the way her monologue looks (so choppily edited) and sounds (even if that was real laughter, some of it sounded “enhanced” with some of the canned stuff). And find better topics for her boozy panel discussions. A debate on “Is screaming the new spanking?” just won’t cut it at 11 p.m. on Saturday nights.

Did you watch the first Wanda Sykes Show? What did you think?

Comments (340 total) Add your comment
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  • jcdc13

    I was looking forward to this show but after her monologue I had to turn it off. It was too painful to watch. The set looked so cheap and the audience was so small and always visible. It was distracting. Hope she can get a new producer and better writers for future episodes. Still love you Wandabut you may be one of those comedians who should always be taken in small doses.

    • SDTim

      I was really distracted byt the set, too, and thought the same thing — “Damn, that looks so cheap!” It felt like Wanda was uncomfortable with the format, which is sad because she’s so funny when she’s doing her thing!

      • MichaelScott

        Funny…Really? I can’t stand sykes. She doesn’t have a funny bone in her body.

        I watched her show just to see her bomb, and I couldn’t get past the opening monologue.

        She won’t make it to 8 shows.

      • Andre

        I am emrxetely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one today..

    • Sam Mayday Malone

      They got rid of the Spike Ferenstein Show for this crap? You knew this Wanda show would be lame when her commercials showcased her lame brand of comedy. BRING BACK SPIKE!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Mike Medeiros

        Spike packed better writing and more laughs into one segment than this had in one hour. Spike is comedy writing royalty and that was also reflected in the calliber of many guests he had. An hour is too long for this show. It took Spike into his 3rd season before they gave him half a dozen hour long shows and he made teh most of them. Wanda wastes them. I want my hour back.

    • Adam

      She should be taken in 0 doses. Watching Wanda Sykes can cause aneurisms. She’s the most unfunny person on the planet, she’s annoying to boot. I want to rip her vocal chords out, her voice is so annoying. Only as equally stupid or untalented people can find her mildly amusing… which would explain why she’s on FOX… Soon enough she will be cancelled, and the world will be at peace once again…

      • Chris

        you’re an a$$hole…it was not that bad…it definitely needs some different ideas, but wanda sykes is a great comedian…I think you’re just upset because a BLACK LESBIAN has taken the place of one of the hit-or-miss “white” shows you watched…at least give the woman a chance to get the show on it’s legs. Just mean and hateful for no reason.

      • Dave

        I agree, she is not that funny. And to the person who IMMEDIATELY played the race card, come on, be cool. You can dislike a comedienne for more than the color of her skin. There are plenty of hilarious stand up artists of all races, and I do not particularly enjoy Wanda Sykes because she isn’t funny, not because shes’s black. Seriously, uncool.

    • SO 2009


    • teris

      I completely agree. I started watching it thinking it was going to be absolutely hilarious because, honestly, that’s how Sykes is most all of the time. However, her monologue really turned me off. Now, I don’t mind political jokes but the whole thing was so pro-Obama/anti-Republican. (I did not vote for Obama but I have nothing against the guy. I also consider myself to be a moderate-conservative mix.) Her whole monologue was geared toward one audience: people who love Obama and hate all other politicians. I turned it off after about 6 or 7 minutes and don’t plan on watching again. I guess I’ll just have to wait for more HBO specials to listen to the Sykes I’m used to

      • Lolio

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    • quid

      this is an example of failure of expectations >. it will soon be gone (kinda like obama)

  • Peter

    Aweful. Turned it off after the monologue. SNL is bad this year. This is worse.

    • paul

      What?! You mean you don’t enjoy watching a ripoff of The View where a lame panel discusses spanking…at 11:30 on a Saturday night?

      • Sheesh

        Lame rip off of the View?? It’s not even that good.

  • hermit

    I watched with interest to see how Wanda’s new show would play out, but I am not entirely sure I was that happy with it.

    I did not find some of the jokes to be in the best taste, and wasn’t that impressed with the off colour jokes. I believe that comedy can be extremely funny without going to the low end of the bad taste area that too many comedians have gone to.

    Otherwise, I think Wanda could carry it off, she is a natural, but will need time to get into a good routine that works for her.

    I think the show needs a bit of time to mature and find what works and what doesn’t…and I did find the drinks around the table a refreshing change from other late night haunts.

    Go Wanda! Best of luck to you, I’ll watch again…

  • bill

    I tried to watch it but just couldn’t, it was very awkward.

  • R Jordan

    Very disappointing…and I was looking forward to it. Hey…everyone knows you’re an Obama fan. Leave it at that … and do material that is funny to everyone…not just the Democrats in the audience.

    • jenny jones

      I don’t mind when comedians pick a “side” and tell funny jokes–some very funny comedians simply exaggerate a truth and it works. Too bad Wanda’s jokes weren’t funny in that way either. If I wanted to watch something that’s “funny to everyone,” which to me is bland, middle of the road stuff, then I’d watch Leno.

      • Y

        Well said, jenny jones. Well, said.

    • paul

      When the “comedians” do jokes that bolster leaders rather than lampooning or critiqueing them, it’s called propaganda, not jokes.

      And it reeks of desperation. The once hilarious Wanda now reeks.

  • Sam

    Was the show as bad as the promos? I love Wanda, but even my dad turned to me during those commercials and said, “Is this supposed to be funny?” It’s 11 o clock, for pete’s sake. Let her be a little less censored!

  • Dan

    Tried to watch…was extremely dissapointed that FOX allowed for this to happen. We all have a right to our opinion on existing government, and she should not be covering up for it or making excuses for it. The unemployement is now at the highest is has ever been, are we going to blame Bush for that too 10 months later??

    • Mike

      Yep, I am.

    • Doug

      Me too. People blamed Clinton for 9/11, and that was 9 months after Bush took office.

      • WTF

        The USA was attacked by Muslim terrorists SEVERAL times during Clinton’s administration and he did NOTHING. That encouraged them to do what happened on 911. But Carter caused the whole mess by getting Iran to remove the Shah and letting the radical fundamentalists take over and get back in power. READ YOUR HISTORY!

      • sami

        to WTF, that’s highly incorrect and ironic that you tell others to read their history. carter didn’t get iran to remove the shah – the shah was an unpopular and brutal dictator who was overthrown by college students, socialists, communists, and even the religious. religious fundamentalists won iran’s democratic elections because 90-92% of the country was illiterate at the time. from where are you getting your information?

        besides, i could argue that islamic extremism has its roots around the turn of the century, not in the ’70s and definitely not in iran.

      • FLgreek

        to WTF…WAKE UP!….HELLO!….the Bush administration was was behind the whole 911….it was just a good reason to start the war….$$$$$….look at who owns the companies doing all the work in Iraq and the ones supplying the military weapons and gear….HELLO!…Republicans don’t care about human life…$$$ is more important…..its all about $$$$$$…just like everything else in the US

    • Anni

      Lucky for you, this administration hasn’t banned your opinion…like the Bush administration banned news footage of the coffins of fallen soldiera returning from the war. Yes, I blame Bush, his cronies, and a corrupt Republican party bent on personal gain and political smear campaigns. You go Wanda! Relax – give ‘em hell again next week!

    • SDTim

      Yes — it take much longer than 10 months to undue the screw-ups of the last 8 years!

    • Sarah

      Wow, you obviously have had an economics course.

    • eaze

      me too-it started with bush in office

    • scoobedu

      Yup..still going to blame him. It will take more than 10 mos to undo 8 years.

    • sadiesue

      Obama – 10 months.
      Bush – 8 years.

    • nycbunny

      Ahhh yeah, me too. Total snow-ball from the Bush Administration.

    • Chris

      Of COURSE we’re going to blame Bush!! How can you possibly say or even think that OUR current president is the reason for the unemployment rate after 1 crappy a$$ year in office doing his best with residual effects from the previous administration. Some people just WANT to see him fail because they don’t want to admit a WHITE MAN ran the country into the ground!

  • annie

    I love Wanda and regretfully agree it was too painful to watch. Phil Keoghan got the best laughs of the night.

    • Sheesh

      No he did’nt.

  • Mark

    Well I gave it a try anyway. Couldn’t stay with it. Continually hammering the conservatives is old hat. It isn’t working for Letterman or USA Today and it won’t work for Sykes. The Dems have used their 3 envelopes and have to take responsibility now for waht is going on. Wanda needs to think back to the day’s of Johnny Carson. There are no shows like that on anymore so there is an opportunity out there.

    • Coyote

      Why do people like Mark conveniently forget that comedians like Letterman were relentless with Clinton? Take your memory pills and shut up about the way poor Dub-ya is being treated.

      • Pinche Cabron

        Why do people like Coyote conveniently forget that Bush was compared to Hitler for 8 years? Take your memory pills and shut up about the way poor Obama’s being treated. The shoe’s on the other foot now.

      • fancypants

        who compared Bush to Hitler? btw, teabaggers are comparing Obama to Hitler currently. either, you’ll never be credible in any argument if you resort to comparing a democratically elected leader to one of the worst criminals against mankind–Hitler.

      • Q

        Bush was not compared to Hitler until the build-up of the Iraq War. That was 2 full years after he was elected. Conservatives have been gunning for Obama since day one. Stop trying to revise history.

      • paul

        Coyote, that’s kind of part of what is so twisted right now — comedians DID go after Clinton as well as Bush. And every other President. Something is really creepy when they DON’T go after a leader. You know, like in North Korea. Or present day America.

      • zeke

        Who cares about politicians they’re all a bunch of crooks. Why do people spend so much time, and effort defending them and contributing to them. I think you guys sound like little HItlers.

  • Dave Mason

    I like Wanda, but the show was awful!! Bring back Mad TV!

    • RayT

      Amen! As much as people ripped on MadTV for 14 years, it most definitely contained more laughs than this. I think Wanda is a brilliant stand-up, but the talk show is just not her format. I mean, the “Know Your Asians” segment was bafflingly stupid. And was it just me, or did anyone else think Phil Keoghan had a pained expression on his face the entire time he was on camera?

      • dj

        Yeah I like it if they brought back the old MadTV without the hand held cameras. I hate it when shows cut costs and screw up the format. By the end of MadTV it just look liked a cheap rip off SNL.

  • tegrn

    while channel surfing i stopped. boring.

  • Volleyballguy

    I was really lloking forward to this show because I love Wanda Syke’s humor. That said, thge show was a HUGE disappointment almost from the get-go. I found the monologue absolutely awful, mean-spirited, tired, way too politicized and, worst of all, NOT funny. Does Wanda seriously think her fans and thus her show’s audience are comprised ONLY of Obama supporting lefties and Bush haters? She managed to offend probably half her audience at least within the first 2 minutes of her monologue and, while I can only speak for myself, I can assure you that I won’t be tuning in to the second show. Look for a huge, and I do mean HUGE drop in the ratings after the 1st show. Wanda, in a nutshell, YOU BLEW IT!

    • CJA

      Amen Volleyballguy. I turned it off after 15 mins. She’s nothing but a shill for Obama. Everyone I’ve talked to said too bad. She’s really funny, love her on Christine but alone…..forget it !

    • Monica

      PERFECT, Volleyballguy. I couldn’t agree more.

  • Carlos B. Embry III

    SNL kicked her but (Wanda) We already got a weirdo lesbo in Ellen. Wanda needs to stick to scripted movies.

    • SDTim

      How about “weirdo” posters who don’t know the difference between “but” and “butt”?

  • CuriousJock

    I absolutely refuse to watch that show again. It wasn’t funny, the humor was rehashed (honestly, Wanda, could you not come up with anything fresher than Bush bashing?) and even the audience seemed to be laughing at the guidance of cue cards. This show will likely be sent to the graveyard by Christmas

  • chuck christiano

    Very bad show even my wife who likes wanda was disappointed with the show. were tired of the bush bashing its obama thats got the country even more divided.

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