Are you looking forward to The Melbourne Comedy Festival?
Yes I am. It will be my first time in Australia so I’m very excited. I’ve been to Canada but this will be the first time that I’ve performed outside of the USA since then.
Anywhere you’re keen to check out?
I have no idea. I’m in Melbourne the whole time. The director of the festival said to me one night, “you’re going to be big in Australia”. And I was like, are you calling me fat? And then he explained what big is and he’s like. “don’t worry, you’ll be big”. Go big or go home basically. So I’m looking forward to going big.
Are you bringing the family?
No, I don’t think I’m gonna bring the family. I have two little kids and I heard you guys have a dingo problem.
I think you’ll be alright in Melbourne…
No, I heard that it’s not safe for kids. The dingoes just swoop in and take ‘em.
What can we expect from your show?
Well, you’re gonna get a big dose of Wanda. It’s new material that I’m working on but I’m pretty sure I’m gonna pull some things from my act before to bring you all up to speed. My act is pretty much a snapshot of what is going on in my life and I know that the audience aren’t really familiar with me and what I’ve done so there will be a few things I will pull from my old acts.
You have a French wife. Do the French have a different sense of humour?
My wife gets my jokes, but yes, the French have a different sense of humour. First of all, their humour is either very mean or it’s full of sexual innuendo. That is the French in a nutshell.
Know much about Aussie humour?
I do not. I heard you guys love knock-knock jokes. [Pause]. I’m joking.
How did you get your big break?
I would say I got my big break through The Chris Rock Show. I give him credit for getting me to that next level. I give him credit, I’m not gonna give him any money.
Do you prefer stand-up or TV?
Stand-up is my first love, that’s where it all started. There’s nothing like standing in front of a live audience and having thousands of people laughing at you, nothing is like it. So yeah, it’s still my favourite. It’s still also the hardest.
Had any tricky situations on stage?
Of course, starting out you’re gonna have those situations, but overall, I would say no, I haven’t had any problems with audiences. I’m confident, I know what I’m doing up there. So I hope the Aussies don’t screw it up for me.
Were you funny as a kid?
I was funny, I was outspoken and my parents said I had a fresh mouth, but that didn’t get me anywhere. You know, I didn’t get any bookings to perform at my Aunt’s or anything. But once I got into Junior High and I could make my class laugh and my teachers laugh, I was like, oh alright, I have something, there’s something here. And I wanted to pursue comedy but I knew my parents would never go for it, so I went to college and got a business degree. It wasn’t until later when I was doing my own thing that I said, okay, I want to pursue comedy. Luckily for me, it paid off.
And if you didn’t pursue comedy?
Well I really don’t have the body for stripping. So it would be something where I worked at night. I would maybe own a comedy club or something.
What kind of things do you find funny?
You know, it’s sad but seeing somebody fall has always made me laugh. I remember as a kid looking out the window, it was snowing and we had a snow day and I was watching my mother get into the car on her way to work and she pulled on the door handle and fell under the car. She saw me in the window laughing and she came back in and gave me a spanking. But you can laugh at your mother falling.
Did you watch the Golden Globes?
I was in Mexico and they don’t do subtitles, they do what you call dubbing and I’m watching it and I’m trying to get into it but with the Spanish it just seemed like a lot of cursing.
Wanda Sykes’ shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival run from March 29 to April 8, at Melbourne Town Hall. comedyfestival.com.au
January 20th, 2012