People want to know about the debut of any late-night talk show, even if the debut is not necessarily going to be a good judge of what the show will end up looking and sounding like. These things take time. That said, Wanda Sykes launched her new entry into late-night TV this past Saturday night on FOX (replacing MADtv, which meant she'd be going against Saturday Night Live for her second half-hour), and you probably want to know how it went. Here are a few thoughts on The Wanda Sykes Show…
Sykes started with a fairly strong monologue. Sure, she showed her liberal stripes — which, being on FOX, played to her rebellious streak — but compared to weekly rants by Bill Maher on HBO (or D.L. Hughley a year ago on CNN), it's not too dangerous of a proposition. And Sykes made sure to deliver.
In her second segment, she introduced her longtime friend and opening act Keith Robinson, who is playing the role of her sidekick. Robinson is a frequent host at the Comedy Cellar in NYC, and any of his friends routinely call him a "dummy." And not in the Jeff Dunham way. Sykes let Robinson go off on a bit he wanted to talk about having a superpower that identifies babies crying??? They did have some fun with video soon afterward, though. There also was a Paranormal Activity parody. So far, s'ok. Then Sykes delivered a second monologue? Hmmm. Sykes has a drag queen on her show named Porsche for reasons yet to be explained. Her segment about going green for her sex toys could have used some better editing and funnier interactions. When we checked in next with Sykes, she was holding court over a drink-fueled panel with Phil Keoghan, Darryl Chill Mitchell and Mary Lynn Rajskub — this lasted two segments and felt like a cross between Maher's Real Time, The View's Hot Topics and Comics Unleashed; in other words, weirdly planned. Her drag queen friend, Porsche, came out for the panel, so to speak, to play a game called "Inappropriate Games" in which they had to guess what part of Asia different celebrities hailed from. "What do you think, Mary Lynn?" Sykes asked at one point. "What is happening?" Rajskub replied. What. Is. Happening. No, seriously. What is happening? I'm not entirely sure. The show averaged a 2.2 rating and a 5 share in early Nielsen ratings estimates, which made FOX execs happy since that was more viewers than they were getting for either MADtv or Spike Feresten's Talk Show with Spike Feresten, although this was a premiere, so you'd expect more people to take the show out for a test drive.
The next episode airs Nov. 14. I'll have to wait and watch the next few weeks before I know how I feel about this show. Here is the whole debut for you to watch and make your own calls: