Wanda Sykes drops in for JFL Northwest


Dropping in on Vancouver while the JFL Northwest festival was in full swing, renowned comedian and actress Wanda Sykes fed the audience at Queen Elizabeth Theatre tales of being the minority in her own home, taking on the world with a new set of boobs, and thoughts on Bill Cosby.

Global News personality Squire Barnes opened up the evening with an introduction to the show, welcoming on-stage Vancouver’s own Darcy Michael. Michael—a comedian who never fails at being enjoyable in his easily accessible and laidback manner—was the perfect choice to fuse the Vancouver scene with the visiting Just For Laughs out-of-towner. As a former cast member of The New Adventures of the Old Christine, a seasoned stand-up performer, and someone who is never afraid to give Larry David a piece of her mind on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Sykes has earned herself a huge following of admirers and many Vancouver comics could be seen in the audience that Wednesday evening.

Sykes threw herself into her set with hot topics like Donald Trump: “I have no Donald Trump jokes, cause you can’t do a joke on a joke.” And that was thankfully all she had to say about it, as Trump is too easy of a target and has become tiring to hear about. Instead Sykes focused the majority of her material on her wife and two children—as the sole African-American in the family, Sykes’ observations about her proud black upbringing proving to have become a comic contrast to her now largely white household was hilarious. But it was her short period on the topic of current news heavy-hitter Bill Cosby that got the loudest laughs of the evening: “The guy likes vagina. I can’t blame him. I just like mine awake.” 

Unlike many of the other comics at the JFL Northwest festival last week, Sykes did not include any Canadian material in her set. She instead assumed that we knew all about the happenings in current American politics—while many probably did, there was no effort on Sykes’ part to convert her humour into a few moments more familiar for Canadian consumption. Even though American news is prominently available and widely discussed in our country, audiences present throughout the duration of the festival have reacted most positively when performers have localized material, even if only a little.

Sykes’ sweet yet stern stance on her children brought out the most organic material of the evening, especially her discussion of body image with her daughter. Having undergone a double mastectomy to lower her chances of getting breast cancer, Sykes loves drawing humor from her experiences as a fifty-one year old woman with brand-new breasts. As Sykes’ show progressed in story-telling format, it was these human moments that really made her fun to listen to.