Forget going for the gold; when it comes to the Academy Awards, comedian Wanda Sykes prefers to go for broke. That's why the funny lady, a pivotal part of the 2002 telecast's writing team, won't be returning to add punch to host Steve Martin's lines at this year's 75th annual ceremony. In her estimation, the kind of humor that really draws a crowd is the sort that also draws blood.
"The Oscars are very networky," she groans to TV Guide Online. "I loved working with [former emcee] Whoopi Goldberg, but everyone's a little too sensitive for me. I like a little edge."
And how. The onetime Chris Rock Show regular can say with great authority that, at the movie biz's black-tie back-slap, a little goes a long way — sometimes too far. In fact, many of her off-color jokes were whited out by the time the show aired. She wasn't even allowed to poke fun at the egomaniacal A-listers in attendance the way she had when Rock was ringleader of the MTV Video Music Awards in '99. (Sample J.Lo crack: "She came with two limos... one for her, one for her ass.")
"We had fun bashing everyone in the room, and that's the approach I took with the Oscars," she relates. "But that's not how it goes. It's a night to celebrate the movies and the industry."
At least in retrospect, Sykes — whose Fox sitcom Wanda At Large debuts March 26 — has been able to see that her Academy Awards experience was, ahem, valuable. Heck, when presenters announced the winners, she damn near expected to hear her own name called. "That Oscar [gift] basket is sweet," she says. "I haven't been able to go yet, but I got a three night stay at a resort in Mexico. I can't wait to do that. In-room massage and dinner? Yeah, can't wait to set that up!"