White House-appointed comedians aren’t crass, and when it comes to roasting officials, they never go for the jugular. So what the hell are they doing hiring Wanda Sykes to make Barack Obama laugh?! Maybe she’s the comedic “change” needed to get everyone in D.C. to lighten up a little.
If the pick of Wanda Sykes as this year’s entertainment at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner tells us anything, it’s that the days of Rich Little and Craig Ferguson are long gone.
Little is the PG-rated ’70s-and-’80s-era impersonator who headlined the WHCA’s 2007 dinner and whose performance was largely panned as having been outdated and unfunny. Ferguson, last year’s entertainer, got better reviews but also played it safe; he said at the time that “being funny is more important to me than being controversial.”
And then there’s Wanda Sykes, whose 2006 CD “Sick & Tired” contains well over 100 instances of R-rated language in just one hour of stand-up. Her routine covers abortion, pornography, sexual acts, prostitution, drug use and strip clubs – and that’s the sanitized-for-your-family-newspaper version of it.
So how’s this going to play when official Washington sits down for dinner at the Hilton Washington on May 9?
“She can be very colorful in her stand-up routines,” April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio, says of Sykes. “She also can be very funny without profanity, as she does voice-overs for children’s shows. I hope she falls somewhere in the middle. Not blue but funny and tasteful.”
Adds another White House reporter: “Based on some of her previous gigs – and the vulgarity she uses – we can only hope that she will respect the office and the crowd by cleaning up her act and making sure that nobody’s offended by her performance.”
The Washington Examiner’s Julie Mason calls Sykes “salty” but says that could create a more lively dinner. “She does have a provocative act, but she seems to actually like Obama. In the past, it’s been awkward when the entertainment insulted the president – who is under no obligation to attend our annual fundraiser.”
Liberals will be glad to know that Sykes is firmly on their side of the aisle, having referred to then-President George W. Bush as an “a-hole” who would ruin everything the United States had ever done. She’s called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and she’s made fun of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s hunting accident.
So will Obama get off easy?
“I’m sick of politicians across the board, Republicans and Democrats,” Sykes says on “Sick & Tired.” “They’re all shady. I’m sick of them. To me, political office should be like jury duty. You should just get a notice in the mail one day and say, ‘Aw, sh-, I’m secretary of state next month. Ain’t this a b–?'”
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Will Wanda’s coming out prompt other celebrities to do the same?