Mouth From the South 

Portsmouth native Wanda Sykes brings her attitude to Richmond.

Sykes is on her way east on her Cotton T-Shirt Tour, sponsored by Comedy Central, which arrives at the Carpenter Center Nov. 19. The comedian sometimes seems to be everywhere at once. Aside from her new show, she can be found infrequently as a cantankerous friend of Larry David on HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," an insulting field correspondent on HBO's "Inside the NFL" (for which she won an Emmy in 2002) and an infuriating puppet's voice on Comedy Central's "Crank Yankers."

The Portsmouth native and Hampton University graduate worked for the National Security Agency before turning to comedy. She has a big role in the upcoming film "Monster-In-Law" starring Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda (due in the spring) and just published her first book, "Yeah I Said It," with Simon and Schuster.

Style: You have so much going on right now: the book, the new TV show and the upcoming film with J-Lo. Do you think you'll ever top Biggie Shorty in "Pootie Tang"?

Wanda Sykes: I don't think so. [laughs] It's crazy. It's like I peaked too soon or something. Everything else is just not fulfilling.

I always wonder what's real on some of these semireality shows, especially "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Are you really friends with Larry David?

No. We just know each other and work together. I know Jeff Garland and there's a producer ... they just thought I'd be good on the show. When we met, [David] just threw something at me, the scene where he drives by and yells out the window, "I'd know that tush anywhere!" And we just did that scene, and he said, "I want you in the show."

You are the executive producer of your Comedy Central show. So what makes it a good show for you?

The freedom. The people I'm working with. Comedy Central — they're cool. And the situation ... it doesn't rely on me to be funny all the time. Like Larry David's show, it lets me get out of that sitcom rhythm, which I don't care for.

Is there any job you won't do?

I probably won't do porn. Because I think I'll be really bad at it. But maybe I'll direct one. And I'll probably never be a critic.

Sometimes it seems like you are on just about every HBO show made except "The Sopranos." How did you get so tight with that network?

It's funny because I don't even think I'm tight with HBO. It started with the Chris Rock show, then "Inside the NFL." We went to the wrap party and I met the HBO execs there. I was drunk and loud, and they liked me. They told me about the NFL show, and I jumped on it because I like football. But I would love to go on "The Sopranos" and get whacked.

On Carson Daly recently he asked you about the Cotton T-Shirt Tour, why it's called that. You said, "because you can put anything on a T-shirt." What do you think needs to be said on a T-shirt right now?

I don't know how effective Puffy's "Vote or Die" is. So I would put "Vote or Get the Flu." People are more scared of the flu. S

Wanda Sykes appears at the Carpenter Center Friday, Nov. 19, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.50, available through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com.


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