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Sykes gives us a taste of her talk show, right cross

by Danny Gallagher, posted May 14th 2009 10:03AM
Wanda Sykes at the White House Correspondents' DinnerEvery year, C-SPAN looks forward to a sharp boost in ratings while the White House press secretary cringes towards a sharp drop in approval points in the long shadow of the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner.

It's a chance for the current administration to let their hair down and show everyone that they can take a good joke and stand some pointed criticism in the K-Street jungle. That should explain why the last Bush administration hired Rich Little to do their show in '07.

To be fair, the basic design of the show is a very slippery slope. You pack a room full of politicians and press figure heads, then top it all off with a comedian who says whatever is on their mind, and the whole thing is bound to boil over in a furious cloud of foam. That's what the Barack Obama administration got when they hired future Fox late night host and New Adventures of Old Christine star Wanda Sykes to serve as roastmaster general.

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This time, the press took Sykes to task with some comments she made about Rush Limbaugh being one of the lazier masterminds of the 9/11 tasks and hoping that his kidneys fail the same way he hopes the country will fail under Obama's presidency. She also took Sean Hannity to task for not taking up his waterboarding promise and suggesting that Keith Olbermann be his torturer. The camera then cut to Olbermann in the crowd who was having a big ol' laugh as if he just watched a CPAC board member fall into an open sewer and die.

In all honesty, that wasn't the funniest part of the video. That honor goes to watching fellow comedian Glenn Beck's unamused reaction to Sykes' set. You could almost hear him thinking, "Oh I'll be laughing when we're all being dragged off to one of Obama's FEMA re-education camps in hybrid trucks by gay Army sergeants." It's funny because he wouldn't be laughing. He would be bawling his beady little eyes out.

The issue is Sykes' pending talk show with Fox. This probably won't be a good reflection of the type of humor or edginess she'll exercise on her show, because she won't be the only writer on the block. Plus her comments seemed more off-the-hip than off the page, and her show will have the benefit of editing, something the White House could only possess if they have control over all of time and space. They're working on it, believe me.

I had originally written this post on the Monday following her performance, glowing with praise for her very edgy jokes and daring to speak what's on her mind when she's in the middle of a PR tornado. But I pulled it when I saw Keith Olbermann's interview with political analyst and "fellow dinner survivor" Richard Wolffe on the whole hoedown.

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Their thoughts on the two lines in Sykes' 10-minute set startled me and got me thinking if I was praising a public death threat over political ideologies, which 99 percent of the time are way off base on just about any issue. But they weren't coming from the foaming mouth of a politician or between the rotting teeth of a radio talk show host. They came from a comic. She tells jokes and she's hired under the context of roasting D.C.'s bigwigs on the left and right side of the aisle, something even Obama did, albeit with less flying anger spittle.

She wasn't belittling the lives of the victims who died on 9/11 the way some political heads have done with far more egregiousness, and her deathwish for "Boss Limbaugh" might have been over-the-line. But they still drew laughs from the parallel between her comments and his regarding his hope for the Obama presidency. She shouldn't be given any slack because of her title, but humor is in the eye of the beholder.

And why does almost every White House Correspondents' Dinner attract some sort of "controversy" over their choice of outsider entertainment? Maybe it has less to do with the entertainment's choice of material and more to do with D.C.'s lack of a sense of humor.

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Otto Fick

Malren if you have a problem with anything I've written why don't act like a man and debate me instead of threatening to tighten your purse strings like a yuppie wuss?

May 14 2009 at 8:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Of course, it's getting mean out there! But could Rush Limbaugh possibly have done more to deserve it?

May 14 2009 at 7:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For real? If you don't like this post because it might be in the slight bit political, skip it. Skip it. There, problem solved.

Or follow through with your threats and go to another tv blog site.
Just my opinion :)

May 14 2009 at 4:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

GREAT. Is this another "not political" political post?

ATTENTION TV SQUAD ADVERTISERS: I will not patronize any of you if this kind of crap continues to be posted here at TV Squad. Just sayin'. Obviously everyone is free to do what they want, but me and my wallet will be over there. So, you know...there's that.

May 14 2009 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Otto Fick

To me(and many others) Rush Limbaugh is a despicable, evil "human being". One moment he's talking about how drug addicts should be given life in prison and come to find out he's a major junkie and was probably involved in a drug ring. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I have no doubt if this was Germany circa 1933 him and Coulter, Hannity, Beck and Savage would proudly be wearing brown shirts.If Limbaugh croaked I wouldn't be saddened in the least.

May 14 2009 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Otto Fick's comment

GODWIN. You lose. Thread over.

May 14 2009 at 1:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Here's my rule about entertainers: They can have any political affiliation they want, as long as they keep their mouths shut about it. I'm not paying for, with my time, attention, or money, the opinions of people whom I fervently disagree with politically. So you can be the biggest liberal on the planet, as long as I don't know it, and I will watch your shows, buy your movies and cd's, and so forth because I am witnessing your art. However, you attack my beliefs and/or the people whom I support, and you're done.

Now, I know I'm going to take heat for this statement. "They have just as much right as anyone else to their opinion! You have no right to judge them for their opinions just because they disagree with yours!" Or, from the more 'intelligent' among the posters, "You're an idiot!" You know what, anyone who says that is just wrong. First of all, these people are selling a PRODUCT. There's a reason it is called show BUSINESS. If I go into a client's office and start disagreeing with them on sensitive issues, I can expect to lose the business. I am a consumer, and I have every right to decide where my money and attention goes.

Secondly, there is no doubt in my mind that the people whom attack me about making the statement will be those on the left. I guarantee that there is a significant number of those that do so that go out of their way to avoid listening to or watching those on the right in the entertainment industry. Don't believe me? Go to some old posts about a known conservative performer's work and see how badly they are attacked from the left.

So, no, now that she shot her mouth off like that, I will NOT be watching Ms. Sykes' show, which is too bad, because until then I thought she was pretty funny.

May 14 2009 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Mike's comment

Actually, I'm going to agree with the heart of your statement - if you don't like someone's politics, you're more than free to not patronize them. As you state, plenty of people on both sides of the divide do exactly that, myself included.

However, expecting there not to be political speech at a political event which they were specifically hired to do is a bit naive. And since this is the first Correspondent's Dinner under the Obama administration, you have to expect some jabs at the other side, particularly when dealing with someone as outspoken as Wanda.

So yeah, feel free to not patronize any of Wanda's products in future, but don't act surprised/offended that she whipped out her personal politics at a political event.

May 14 2009 at 8:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The only reason I'm surprised is that the White House Correspondents' Dinner is traditionally more of a roast; that is, the chance for them to make fun of them selves and each other, not the other side. The line "This is a tough holiday for Rahm; he has a hard time putting the word 'Day' after 'Mother'" was the FUNNIEST thing I've heard in at least six months. I still chuckle when I hear it.

And as another article that I read about this dinner said, even if the mainstream media is absolutely in love with the President, there are still plenty of things about him Wanda could have poked good fun at. If all she's going to do is trash the right, then that event is no different than a campaign event or a typical day on the Hill. And the point is it's SUPPOSED to be different.

So, no, I wasn't offended. After all, for all their vaunted intelligence and creativity, very few people on the left have any original thinking when it comes to challenging members of their own side. But I thought she wasted a great opportunity. I doubt she'll be invited back.

May 15 2009 at 9:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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