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Sykes slays Boston crowd at Orpheum gig

Robin Hamilton

The laughter in the Orpheum Theatre was so loud she could barely finish her jokes. But Wanda Sykes didn’t mind. It simply proved that she delivered.

For only one night, Sykes performed to a packed house last Friday night, the audience as diverse as it was hungry for her sharp, deadpan humor, which shone through as the talented comic talked about everything from vacations to politics.

“I wanted to vote for Hillary [Clinton] in the beginning, but after a while, I wasn’t sure which Hillary I was going to get — tearful Hillary, angry Hillary, forgetful Hillary,” Sykes said, backed by audience laughter.

“But how can you mistake whether or not you were under sniper fire? How can you ‘not recall?’ I may or may not recall if something happened in 1985, or was it ’86? You recall if your life is being threatened!”

Sykes also threw her share of digs at Republicans.

“I admit I am a Democrat. I am too cute to be a Republican,” she said. “Democrats are laid back, they want universal health care, education for everyone. Republicans are uptight, greedy. They have to have an extra shield up to hide all that ugliness.”

Sykes also told the audience she was happy to be in Boston, saying she has been touring the country, performing in predominantly smaller venues.

“In those small cities, everyone was wearing those pants with no zippers, just elastic around the waist,” she joked.

Sykes came onto the national comedy scene in 1997 as a writer and correspondent on HBO’s Emmy-winning “The Chris Rock Show.” It wasn’t too long before other doors opened, including the chance to headline her own shows on Fox and Comedy Central, and a return to HBO for a stand-up comedy special, “Wanda Sykes: Sick and Tired.”

Sykes has been seen on the big screen as well, performing in a number of supporting roles including “Monster-in-Law” and “Evan Almighty.” She now has a recurring role alongside “Seinfeld” alum Julia Louis-Dreyfus on the CBS sitcom “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”

“Some of you may have seen me on that show,” she said, smiling as many in the audience clapped.

“Thank you for that. The show was just renewed for another season, and I appreciate you all watching. That is why we can stay on the air,” she said to more thunderous applause.

“You know, it was kind of dicey there for a while, with the writers’ strike. I am a member of the writers’ union, and I think it is important [to fight to get] our demands. We had to take a stand to get our money for the Internet, you know,” she said, before pausing for a moment.

“But that picket line was hard. I found myself walking with that sign for 15 minutes, and I was getting tired!” she continued, lifting the microphone stand and holding it like a picket sign. “My arms hurt, my feet started to get tired. I started to think back to Martin Luther King and the civil rights workers, and they were marching for miles, across whole states in church shoes, with dogs and hoses.”

After a pause, she sighed and smiled.

“It made me realize I was born at the right time,” she said, the audience roaring with laughter.