Wanda Sykes: so funny, it’s criminal

While perusing new movie trailers, I came across one for Evan Almighty. I had put this comedy and sequel-of-sorts to Bruce Almighty on my maybe list of summer movies, based solely on the strength of Steve Carell’s endearing comedic squareness and Lauren Graham‘s endearing comedic hotness. But after seeing the full-length trailer, my meter tipped from maybe to almost definitely. Why? One word: Wanda.

Wanda Sykes, that wisest of wisecrackers, is one of the most consistently sidesplitting women around. She is guaranteed talk-show gold. Whenever I see her name on the roster, I make sure to tune in (same goes for Amy Sedaris, but that is another topic for another post). Heck, Wanda even makes Jay Leno bearable.

But after seeing Wanda’s five seconds of screen time in the trailer, I started to worry. Would this be another patented Wanda Sykes paratrooper job? One where she parachutes in, throws a hilarity grenade and then is airlifted out for the remainder of the war movie? Why has this criminally funny lady become so criminally underused?

Wanda has been shoehorned into the smartass sidekick/funny friend slot, like her role on The New Adventures of Old Christine (Full Disclosure: I don’t watch regularly, but the three episodes I have seen had a pitiful with-Wanda-to-without-Wanda ratio). Sure, she had a shot at stardom in her own right in 2003 with her short-lived show Wanda at Large. But it failed to click, so she went back to being the riotous Robin to everyone else’s boring Batman. Still, I believe she can be so much more. Don’t forget that other comic who spent a good chunk of her early career as the funny best friend. I don’t know, perhaps you’ve heard of her … some shrinking violet named Rosie O’Donnell. I’m just saying.

Speaking of lesbian talk show hosts, Wanda is also a favorite of Ellen Degeneres’. She helped Ellen celebrate her birthday earlier this year in a conversation that included my new personal catchphrase: “Gay is the new black.”

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