The Atlanta Pride Committee and The LGBT Institute at The National Center for Civil and Human Rights has partnered with the Fox Theatre to celebrate the 29th anniversary of the legendary Stonewall Riots. The first-of-its-kind event in Atlanta features a comedy show with Wanda Sykes and Tig Notaro at the Fox Theatre on Wednesday, June 20 at 8 p.m. Peach got a chance to talk to Wanda Sykes about her sense of pride and the meaning of Stonewall today.
What do you define as the beginning of your career?
I’m from the Virginia, DC area where I started doing standup back in 87’. I caught my first break as a writer for Chris Rock on his show and then moved from behind the camera to being in front of the camera.
You have made a successful career in stepping from writing to performing yourself – are you still involved in writing?
Yes, I write all of my own material, I have my own production company and several TV shows including a show called Face Value on BET. I also work as a consulting producer on Roseanne, She’s a great writer too, and the show has a powerful cast.
As part of the lineup for the Pride Stonewall Celebration of the Fox, what does pride mean to you in this day and age?
Pride is very important for our community. The more we are on the same page, the better.
What relevance do you think Stonewall has today?
I think we see what’s going on with police brutality today resembles what went down with Stonewall – so even today, it’s very relevant. It’s not so much a gay issue but impacts black and brown people more, but as a whole, our community is impacted. We see the same policy continue.
What can people going to the Fox expect from the performance on June 20?
It’s brand new hour I have written, and I talk about race, the administration, and my family. It’s a lot of fun coming up with a new show even though I talk about a lot of uncomfortable things. Humor is great in that way because you can talk about these things, and it resonates more with the audience without it being a rant. It hits them more if they can laugh about it.
You are performing alongside Tig Notaro – what do you have to say about her?
We have the same sensibilities, and we get along great. And she is hilarious too.
How have you developed as a performer – has to be a member of the LGBTQ community changed anything?
No, not really. It just makes me more relaxed, and I feel more confident and comfortable with who I am. It has gotten better from a celebrity point of view, and people like me can be an example to the kids today.
What else is going on in Wanda Sykes’ world?
I’m doing a voiceover for a cartoon, and I have a few projects out there. The Roseanne writers meet at the end of the month, and I’m guest starring in a new show on Comedy Central called The Other Two.
Wanda Sykes and Tig Notaro performs June 20 at the Fox Theatre as part of Atlanta Pride’s Stonewall Celebrations. Tickets at foxtheatre.org.
UPDATE: As a result of the insensitive tweets made by Roseanne Barr in late May, Wanda Sykes left her position as consulting producer and writer on the Roseanne show prior to it being canceled by the ABC network.