Inside “The Wanda Sykes Show” with sidekick Keith Robinson

When you're in Hollywood, you can witness screen magic in person in many different ways. Some shows film live to tape, which means you're there, they're there and it all happens as if we're in real time even though nobody will see this on TV until hours later (which means we could see it twice, you guys!). Other TV shows and movies film at a hurry-up-and-wait pace, which means if you're there, it's exciting for the first two seconds, then not exciting again until hours later when the one person says "Rolling!" and the other person says "Action!" and then the famous people begin saying their lines on camera. The Wanda Sykes Show on FOX operates on that other, rarer schedule, which is taped before a live audience, but without regard to clocks because it tapes a night ahead of its air date.

Which is how you can find yourself spending two hours on a Friday night watching a show that's ultimately only 40 minutes long when it airs on Saturday night.

Not that that's not fun. If you're at Stage 56 inside CBS Television City in Los Angeles, then you get to see that around the corner is The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and if you look it up on Wikipedia (which is a thing that exists), then you'll learn that Sykes tapes where The Pat Sajak Show taped. History! You'll also get to experience the unique anti-warm-up skills of comedian Brody Stevens — you'll learn a lot about Brody, which will come in handy in your Trivial Pursuit games of the future — and also a tight stand-up set from Sykes' announcer sidekick, Keith Robinson. Robinson, a regular host at the Comedy Cellar when he was living in New York City, moved out to L.A. to join his longtime friend Sykes for her show. Their chemistry shows on-camera, too, as you believe that's the one segment in the show in which they don't need a teleprompter. Here's an extra video in which Sykes and Robinson dish on one another.

Remember when I said it took two hours to film 40 minutes? What up with that? This is up with that. Sykes had several stops and starts with her opening monologue, muffing enough lines that at one point between takes, she turned to the audience and joked: "Boy, that was rough, huh?" "When you see this on TV, it'll look so smooth," Sykes added. "You can play a drinking game at home, and say, 'She f*cked up right there!" In the few hours they had to edit the footage, they wisely cut one of the clunkier bits with drag queen Porsche and an audience member, but they also had to drop some wild and silly moments with Sykes' roundtable panel guests: JB Smoove, Margaret Cho and Seth Green. I suppose they had to keep that "Inappropriate Games" segment with one of Sykes' production assistants (because he appeared and got credited in the good-nights), but really, the panel with Smoove, Cho and Green provided more of the fun and unexpected moments that would make for good television viewing. More of that, please!

To do that, perhaps they should just go ahead and tape it live-to-tape, or even just go live with it on Saturday night. You know. Like that other live show on Saturday night. Do it. Do. It. Magic.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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