Wanda Sykes won’t work on any ‘Roseanne’ show minus Roseanne: “I think I’m going to move on’

SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 17:  Actress Wanda Sykes attends the 20th Anniversary of V-Day at The Broad Stage on February 17, 2018 in Santa Monica, California.  (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

Credit: Rodin Eckenroth

Credit: Rodin Eckenroth

SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 17: Actress Wanda Sykes attends the 20th Anniversary of V-Day at The Broad Stage on February 17, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

Originally posted Friday, June 8, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Wanda Sykes liked Roseanne Barr.

As an executive producer, she made Barr a judge on her reality competition show "Last Comic Standing" a few years back. She actively helped out on the revived "Roseanne" because she was buds with producer Bruce Helford, who created her 2003 show "Wanda at Large."

But it all suddenly crashed down courtesy of Barr’s racist tweet heard around the world comparing a former black Obama advisor to an ape. ABC nixed the show. And Sykes is still working through her feelings about the whole brouhaha.

"It's crazy when you deal with people. They're one way to your face and then on social media, they turn into crazy people," said Sykes, who spoke to the AJC to promote a June 20 show at the Fox Theatre with Tig Notaro to celebrate the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, a landmark moment for the gay rights movement. (Buy tickets here.) "They type in words and not realize there are faces on the other end of these things... The majority of stuff people write on Twitter they'd never do to someone's face. For me, if I have something to say, I'll say it to your face absolutely!"

She said she spent two to three days a week while the revived “Roseanne” was in production helping with scripts and punching up jokes. She was planning to do so again season two until the Tweet last month.

Barr, after she was fired, implied that Sykes announcing she was quitting on Twitter helped hasten ABC’s decision to cancel the show outright later that day. Sykes scoffed at that notion. “It wasn’t my Tweet that put any pressure on ABC. It was her Tweet! All I said was I wasn’t coming back.”

Her reasons for working on the show in the first place were multi-fold. Besides her personal connection with the producer, she loved the original 1990s incarnation of the show. “I was a fan,” she said. “Also, I knew she was a Trump supporter and I liked the idea of showing how the Conners were making out in Trump’s America. This would be a great way to start the dialogue.”

“This country is so polarized,” Sykes added. “We created some water-cooler talk about important issues like health care. It’s a shame it had to end like that.

Even if ABC and the producers were able to cobble together some sort of Barr-less show with existing cast, Sykes wants no part of it.

“I think I’m going to move on,” she said. “I went out of my way to carve out some time for ‘Roseanne.’ I did care about it. But I’ve got plenty of my own stuff to do.”

Indeed, she runs her own production company, which creates Atlanta-based truTV's "Talk Show the Game Show" and the BET game show "Face Value" with Tiffany Haddish and Deon Cole.

And she has spent the past 18 months building up material for her next comedy special. The June 20 show will feature a bulk of that show. Her upcoming theater tour will be called, “Oh Well.”

“That’s the mood of the country right now,” she said. “There’s so much [expletive] going on and it’s not normal. But we are like, ‘Oh, there’s another school shooting. Oh well!”

Being a gay woman, Sykes paid close attention to the Supreme Court ruling last week regarding the Colorado baker refusing to serve a gay couple. The judges ruled in the baker’s favor 7-2 but on narrow grounds. “It wasn’t some sweeping thing where you don’t have to serve gays or blacks or whatever,” she said. “I don’t want to make it out for more than it was.”

Sykes herself has zero desire to go into politics but she's cheering former "Sex and the City" actress Cynthia Nixon's bid for New York governor against the incumbent Andrew Cuomo. "She's smart, she's passionate and she's been active in politics a long time," Sykes said. (She is also a fan of Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.)

The comic said she doesn’t have any “Roseanne” references in the core of her upcoming show but she knows she’ll have to address it at the Fox Theatre.

“I’ll find some way to get it out, get at it and get out of it,” she said. “Maybe if they want to know my thoughts, they can just read this article. Then I’ll have time to squeeze two more Trump jokes in!”


Wanda Sykes and Tig Notaro

8 p.m. Wednesday, June 20


Fox Theatre

660 Peachtree Street, Atlanta