National Coming Out Day is Thursday, October 11th and Athens PRIDE and UGA GLOBES are proud to welcome Wanda Sykes to the Classic City!!!
Wanda Sykes is an Emmy award winning comedian, actress, writer and voice artist. She has been called "one of the funniest stand up comics" by her peers and ranks among Entertainment Weekly's 25 Funniest People in America. She is also an out Black lesbian that has spoken out about gay rights issues, participated in a campaign to fight anti-gay slurs, and was among the thousands who marched throughout Los Angeles to protest Prop 8.
Ms. Ricky Roberts, Athens PRIDE treasurer and UGA GLOBES Chair had the opportunity to speak with Wanda Sykes in a phone interview.
Ricky: Peace family. Today is October 9, 2012. My name is Ricky Roberts aka Ricky Simone. This is the best Tuesday morning I’ve ever had because I have the honor to be able to speak with Ms. Wanda Sykes. Wanda Sykes is an Emmy award winning comedian, actor and writer. She is been called one of the funniest stand up comics and it is so very true.
If you haven't seen any of her comedy specials or TV shows or movies. Then you have been really missing out on incredible talent. Please make sure you get your tickets to her show at the Classic Center right here in Athens, GA this Thursday night at 8pm.
On behalf of Athens PRIDE and UGA GLOBES I would like extend a warm welcome to you. And say thank you for coming to Athens! You could be doing your show anywhere in the world so we are extremely honored to have come to town. Thank you for giving Athens some of your time this morning.
Ricky: How are you?
WS: Well thank you. I’m doing quite well.
Ricky: Tell us about your stop in Athens. Will you get a chance to spend some time walking around town or checking out our campus?
WS: A little bit. When I’m touring, it’s like I try to get there early so I can at least walk around a little bit. But mainly after the show, it’s all about going to grab something to eat or a nice dinner, if it’s not too late. I’m bouncing from city to city so it’s kind of hard to take in all the glory of Athens.
Ricky: I first saw you on the Chris Rock show and fell in love with you. Your voice is so distinct and you always seem to say exactly how you feel. How have you been able to keep it so real and still be so well received?
WS: Well to me it’s just the easiest thing to do is to be authentic- be real. That way it saves me from trying to pretend or act like I’m somebody else or I feel a certain way. It’s just easy just to be straight up with people. I do that with my opinions and if that’s how I feel about something that’s what I want to say. I think I get away with me it because a lot of people feel the same way and they go “I wish I would have said that”. It’s kind of common sense I think. And also It’s not like I’m being mean. I’m not mean spirited and I think that’s also something that a lot of people like.
Ricky: When you started out doing comedy there were some difficult times and you had some difficult audiences. Since we live in the microwave generation where everyone wants instant success. What advice do you have for people who are trying to be successful right now? Not just as comics or artists but just in life?
WS: You have to want it for the right reasons, I think. Me, when I started doing stand up, I didn’t say oh one day I want to be famous and I want to have TV shows and all that. It was just I just wanted to be a funny comedian and be able to travel around the country and make people laugh and earn a decent living. So it was more about I was excited about being able to work in a profession that I was passionate about. I wasn’t even thinking about the money really and I think that’s the secret. If you go after something because you want to get paid or you want to be famous you are going to end up being miserable when it doesn’t work out or you see how much work you have to put into it. You are just not going to be happy. So I think you know go with your passionate about.
Ricky: Who is your favorite new comic right now?
WS: I really don’t have one to be honest with you. When I’m doing my own thing and touring, I try not to watch what other people are doing. Also now being a mother, I really don’t have time to watch other people. If I’m not working, I’m watching my kids. That’s pretty much it. I’m watching Dora the Explorer right now. She’s pretty good. (laughs) I don’t know if you’ve heard of this kid Elmo? I love Elmo.
Ricky: Ok Elmo is the business right now (laughs) Just to switch gears what are your thoughts about the election and the last Presidential Debate?
WS: The last debate, I was a little shocked. I was like who is this guy? It wasn’t the Mitt Romney we’ve seen on the campaign trail and I think that really threw the President off. Here’s what really pisses me off. After the debate, everyone’s like we will see what the fact checkers have to say. Why do we need fact checkers? You’re standing up here talking to the American public and you are running for office --everything that comes out of your mouth should be the truth. You should be able to stand up there and tell lies. It’s just not fair. It’s not fair to us and it’s just not right. To me, I really wish they had like an air horn and whenever someone told a lie it would just go off. Or like on Nickelodeon when they get slimed. (laughs) Or just an old grandmother shows up with a good switch and gives them a good whooping for lying (laughs)
Ricky: (laughs) That would definitely be helpful.
WS: I think that would be good. But to me I don’t understand how we got to this point where now we have to go back and the next day tell you what was truth and what was a lie.
Ricky: Do you think Gay Marriage or LGBT equality will be used to distract the country yet again from what each candidate truly brings?
WS: I think it really is about the economy. But I think that they definitely will bring that back up again. The Republicans made it very clear at their convention that LGBT community was not welcome. Then you look at the Democratic National Convention and it was all inclusive and welcoming all and they talked about marriage equality. It’s pretty clear where each party stands but I think they will use it. But it’s more from these super PACS and ad campaigns. I past a billboard the other day and it was like Obama is for abortion and gay marriage. (laughs) That was it. That was the billboard. First of all no one is for abortion. That’s just ignorant to say that. And it’s not gay marriage, it’s marriage equality. It’s different. But to answer your question, yes they will try to use it but I think it’s going to come from like I said these super PACs instead of from the candidates.
Ricky: I wrote a song called Gay is the New Black and it was dedicated to the Black community. I got a lot of backlash for that but it was to basically how can we as a people discriminate against another group given our history? I know this is a highly charged subject. But I just want to know what are your thoughts as one of the few out, Black lesbians in the public eye?
WS: I’ve said that years ago that gay was the new black. I also caught some heat for saying that right now in this day and age; it’s harder to be gay. You are more discriminated against for being gay not for being black. There are 39 states where you can be fired for being gay. They can’t fire you anymore for being black. There’s all kind of tax issues. I’m paying higher taxes. I don’t get the same tax breaks as another married couple would get. We can also talk about immigration status. Right now, gays are treated as second class citizens. So I would yeah it is, you are right.
Ricky: Every since I started posted information about your show. People have been responding with excitement. You are getting a lot of love from the folks in Athens. I hope that translates to them going out and purchasing tickets to the show this Thursday night at the Classic Center, 8pm. Here are some questions that were posted from your family in Athens. Shay wants to know if you have any comedy specials coming out anytime soon?
WS: The show I am working on now. The show I am bringing to Athens. Yeah eventually this will turn into a special but it’s just a long process. I have to really have it where I’m like 100% ready to record this. Come check out the show that I’m doing now and you will get to see where it ends up.
Ricky: Maybe we’ll end up in the special. (laughs) Some folks in Athens might end up in the special. I’m saying folks you better be there this Thursday night. Shandra and Cencere want to know what made you decide to come out and did it impact your career in any way?
WS: It has not impacted my career. As like negatively, no it has not had any type of negative effect on my career. It’s been great. I think I’m a funnier comedian now because when I’m on stage it’s just total freedom. It’s nothing hanging over my head. No secrets. What made me come was I was at a Prop 8 rally. I was doing a show in Vegas. That weekend it was the national protest for Prop 8. So I went to the rally and had no intentions on speaking. But they invited me to come up and say something. That’s when I came out. There wasn’t like a big deal to me, I just wasn’t out to strangers. Anyone who knew me knew that I was a lesbian. I got married. It was funny like when I got back to the hotel I was looking at CNN and it was on the scroll Wanda Sykes comes out. I was like oh wow ok I guess this is a big deal. But like I said I’m like so glad that I did it.
Ricky: Well you’ve mentioned your wife and your children. Janelle wants to know how do you keep a marriage alive and kicking with a new baby? What advice do you have for married couples who are about to have their first child?
WS: You have to make time. You really do. We plan to spend time together. We sit down with our schedules and go ok we can go away just for a night. Even it’s just a nice hotel in the area or dinners. We really do try to keep that connection where we just spend some time together. You have to do that because the kids they will just take over and you will become lazy and complacent. Next thing you know it’s like wow what happened to us. In terms of people having kids- people don’t tell you the whole truth about having kids. They just tell you it’s great, it’s the best you can do, what a gift. But it’s hard. It’s really hard. I now understand why some animals eat their babies. (laughs) I get it. I get it. (laughs)
Ricky: Wow how do you follow that up. (laughs) I guess will end with this. Recently my organization UGA GLOBES submitted a proposal to the university calling for a fully funded domestic partner benefits program where domestic partners would receive all the same benefits that spouses receive. The proposal passed through three different levels on campus and now it’s up to President Adams to decide what to do next. Please say a few words to President Adams to encourage him to move swiftly on implementing the program and to do the right thing.
WS: I wish I had more information on what you are trying to do. But regardless President Adams, do the right thing. It’s all about equality and respecting the rights others so do the right thing.
Ricky: Thank you Ms. Wanda Sykes. Hope you have a great show on Thursday night! I’ll be there, lots of Athens PRIDE people will be there and we are just really excited that you will be here.
WS: Ok cool. Be good. Bye-bye
Ricky: That’s all folks. That was Wanda Sykes! Please buy your tickets to the Wanda Sykes show this Thursday night at 8pm at the Classic Center. You don’t want to miss it! You have the opportunity to be a part of something really wonderful that’s going to happen in Athens. We don’t get a lot of opportunities to have this caliber of talent in town so I really hope you will take advantage and make sure you’re in the house on Thursday night to see Wanda Sykes. This National Coming Out Day is going to be blast. It’s the perfect date night. You can take a date to the Percentage Day that GLOBES is having at The Grit or Ted’s Most Best. Then take your date out to the Wanda Sykes show. I mean this is like the perfect National Coming Day. What more can you ask for? So anyways this is your girl Ricky Roberts aka Ricky Simone and it’s been a pleasure. I’m just going to be floating on cloud 9 all day today. So see you soon. Thanks family.
Athens PRIDE Weekend 2012
All Athens PRIDE events are 21 and over unless otherwise noted. All Athens PRIDE events have a $5 suggested donation at the door. No one will be turned away and you are welcome to donate more. Thanks for your support so we can continue to grow our Athens PRIDE celebration.
Friday August 31st - Pre PRIDE happy hour @ THE GO BAR - 8-10 pm
AFTER PARTY @ THE ENGINE ROOM - 9 pm - 2 am
Friday September 7th - ARTIST SHOWCASE @ upstairs at the GLOBE - 8 - 10 pm. Several poets, singers and other artists to perform.
DRAG-A-OKE @ FARM 255 - 11 pm - 2 am. DJ Patrick from Almost Famous with hosts Yasmine Alexander and LaKeisha Pryce.
Saturday September 8th - All ages bowling @ Ten Pins in Homewood Hills Shopping Center - 4 -6 pm. Free for the first 20 teens 13-18. Adult supervision for younger teens.
DANCE @ Little Kings - 9 pm - 2 am. Several DJ's will show their talents. WIG OUT is the theme. $50 cash prize for the best wig judged by local professionals in wig wearing. Those professionals are excluded from entering the contest.
Sunday September 9th - PRIDE service at OUR HOPE MCC @ the Episcopal Center 980 S. Lumpkin St. - 11 am - noon All ages welcome
CELEBRATION OF YOUR COMMITMENT - OUR HOPE MCC - 12:30 pm - Light refreshments All ages welcome
Annual PRIDE afternoon luncheon (picnic) @ the Lake Herrick Pavilion @ the UGA Intramural Fields on College Station Rd - 2 - 6 pm. Food and drinks will be provided but you are welcome to bring either if you wish. All ages welcome
Athens Showgirls Cabaret will be hosting an all ages closing party drag show @ the GLOBE - 7 - 10 pm. $5 cover charge for cost of the space.
The Pour House, formerly Toro's Run, formerly the Washington St. Tavern, is Athens new GAY BAR! The Pour House is located on Washington St. across the street from the court house and next door to the old Wild Wing Cafe location. Please go by and have a drink and say THANKS!! Details of events and specials forthcoming.
I hope to see you at many of the weekend's events.
Mike Chadwick, chair
Peace family. Today is October 9, 2012. My name is Ricky Roberts aka Ricky Simone. This is the best
Tuesday morning I’ve ever had because I have the honor to be able to speak with Ms. Wanda Sykes. Wanda Sykes is an Emmy award winning comedian, actor and writer. She is been called one of the funniest stand up comics and it is so very true.
If you have seen any of her comedy specials or TV shows or movies. Then you have been really missing out on incredible talent. Please make sure you get your tickets to her show at the Classic Center right here in Athens, GA this Thursday night at 8pm.
On behalf of Athens PRIDE and UGA GLOBES I would like extend a warm welcome to you. And say
thank you for coming to Athens! You could be doing your show anywhere in the world so we are extremely honored to have come to town. Thank you for giving Athens some of your time this morning.
Ricky: How are you?
WS: Well thank you. I’m doing quite well.