While many of her comedian peers have complained about cancel culture, Wanda Sykes says she isn’t worried. In a new interview with the Guardian, the 59-year-old comic explains why it just means people are being held accountable for their actions.
“To me, the whole complaint about cancel culture is a lot of men — especially straight men — who are just pissed that they can’t say things anymore, y’know?” Sykes explained. “And it’s not like you can’t say these things. You can say them, but now there’s just consequences. So that’s why I say I can’t get canceled. Only God can say: ‘All right, Wanda, that’s enough.’”
The Other Two star doesn’t shy away from tackling hot-button issues. In her new Netflix special, I’m an Entertainer, for instances, Sykes addresses the transgender community, which fellow comics like Dave Chappelle have targeted in their jokes. She takes a different tack.
“I welcome my trans sisters into the ladies’ room,” she tells the crowd during the special. “Maybe you’ll make us do better, y’know?”
Speaking to the Guardian, Sykes shared that she “wants the community to know that I’m with them. I think it’s important to let people know where you stand, especially with all the comments everyone else has been making.”
She’s also OK with distancing herself from comedy stars whose values she doesn’t share. Back in 2018, Sykes was the first person to publicly cut ties with Roseanne Barr when she posted a racist tweet about a senior member of the Obama administration. At the time, Sykes was a consulting producer and writer on The Connors, ABC’s reboot of Barr’s popular Roseanne sitcom. While she left the show in response to Barr’s statements, Sykes asserts that there was no big rift between her and the TV star, who was subsequently fired.
“Honestly, I never, like, fell out with her,” Sykes said. “I just made a statement that I could no longer be on that show, because of the comment.”
While Sykes doesn’t have a “fear” of being taken down in today’s cultural climate — “I think it’s just knowing who you are and what you will say and won’t say,” she reasoned — she did once worry that coming out as lesbian would affect her career. Sykes was 44 when she came out in 2008, the year she married wife Alex, with whom she shares 14-year-old twins. Ultimately, however, breaking the news was liberating.
“You don’t want to be on stage trying to be funny and having that other little piece of your brain being occupied by: ‘Are they gonna find out? What if I slip up?’” she said of hiding her sexuality. “Now I’m just 100% there.”