Wanda Sykes Interview: ‘Not Normal’
“We all wanted to set in Archie’s chair!” exclaims Wanda Sykes about her recent starring appearance on the live version of “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons” for ABC. In our exclusive webchat (watch the video above), she adds, “I grew up watching those shows, so to me it was an incredible experience on that same set… the furniture, the swinging kitchen door. I teared up when I saw the house number on the porch of 704 Hauser Street.”
Sykes played the iconic character of Louise (“Weezie”) Jefferson opposite Jamie Foxx as George Jefferson (roles originated by Emmy winner Isabel Sanford and Emmy nominee Sherman Hemsley). The program “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” is eligible at the 2019 Emmy Awards as Best Variety Special (Live) and the performers are in the movie/limited series acting categories. ABC is going all out in its promotion to voters by offering the public access to the classic sets from both comedy programs in the Westfield Mall of Century City through this Sunday.
As part of her big year, the stand-up comic and actress also has her own Netflix special “Wanda Sykes: Not Normal” eligible at this year’s Emmys. It competes in the Best Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) category and she is on the ballot twice as producer and writer. Her previous specials “Sick and Tired” (2007) and “I’ma Be Me” (2010) were also nominated. She reveals that it took close to two years of working out the material and touring before she wanted to film it for the streaming company. She says, “I start off by writing a bunch of jokes from something that sparks from the news or from real life. I go out and do 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there, and build it up. Then I get to the point where I want to know what I say with these jokes and try to find something thematic to carry throughout the hour.”
Sykes has a career total of nine Emmy nominations with one win in 1999 as part of the writing staff of “The Chris Rock Show.” Two of those bids have been in 2017 and 2018 for her guest role on ABC’s comedy “Black-ish.” For this year’s ballot, she has entered the episode “Each One, Teach One.” Regarding that segment, she jokes, “My character of Daphne actually got to make sense! In that office, there’s always something crazy. It was nice to be able to have a real conversation with Anthony Anderson‘s character. But of course in the end, she goes back to being her crazy self.”