Did you ever think you'd live to see the day when an out, black lesbian got her own late-night show... on a network owned by Rupert Murdoch? Well, it appears hell has frozen over, because Wanda Sykes is finalizing a deal to host a Saturday night talk show on Fox. According to Reuters, the as yet untitled program, which will take over the time slot vacated by "MadTV," "will be topical, featuring a panel of recurring guests sparring over issues concerning politics as well as pop culture."
This is great news for a number of reasons. For one thing, it sounds like Sykes' show will bear some resemblance to HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" -- and that means we might finally see some substantive late-night conversation on a network. It's also gratifying to see a smart, funny woman find her place in what the New York Times' Alessandra Stanley pegs as a white, male arena filled with hosts who "offer a united front of safe boundaries at bedtime." (For definitive proof of this assessment, see the irritating new "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.") And, all identity politics aside, I'm excited because I've loved Wanda Sykes for years -- as a stand-up comedian, talk show guest and scene-stealing supporting player on the hilarious "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and the otherwise drab "New Adventures of Old Christine."
I'm tempted to speculate that, much as 2008 belonged to Tina Fey, 2009 will be the year of Wanda Sykes. She's certainly had a big few months: Last November, Sykes officially came out as a (newly married) lesbian. Then, in February, we learned that she will be the first openly gay person -- and the first woman since 1993! -- to host the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in May. And now her own talk show! What's next? A six-figure book deal, perhaps?
As a reminder of just how fabulous Sykes can be, here's a clip (that becomes slightly NSFW toward the end) of her routine on gay marriage: