Wanda Sykes has been on SNL, but not in the way you think

Wanda Sykes has been on SNL, but not in the way you think

Although Wanda Sykes has been impersonated on SNL a few times, she is part of a long list of Black female comedians who have never hosted the show.

Wanda Sykes is an incredibly successful comedian who got her start on The Chris Rock Show more than four decades ago.

Even so, Sykes has never been a host on NBC’s Saturday Night Live (SNL), like many of the other Black female comedians who have been overlooked by the show.

Wanda Sykes’s impressive career

Wanda Sykes has now been established as one of the funniest comedians on and off the screen.

The comedian has a body of work that stretches from Curb Your Enthusiasm and The New Adventures of Old Christine to Evan Almighty and Nutty Professor II.

And while Sykes may have got her start as a thereto unknown standup comedian performing at the Coors Light Super Talent Showcase and later in Caroline's Comedy Club, her big break came when she joined The Chris Rock Show writing team, back in 1977.

Since then, Sykes has gone on to star in numerous films, television shows and comedy specials of her own, with 17 different Emmys Awards and Nominations to her name.

Wanda Sykes has been on SNL, but not in the way you think

Whenever the topic of a successful comedian’s career comes up, the conversation inevitably turns to how and when this comedian hosted NBC’s long-running late-night show, SNL.

SNL has been on the air for almost five decades in one form or another at this point, and although the show has given several full-time cast members an “in” into the world of television comedy, it is still considered a great honor for established comedians to join the cast as the host of an episode to this day.

And even though comedians like Eddie Murphy, Melissa McCarthy and even Steve Martin, have graced the SNL stage over the years, Sykes’ name is mysteriously missing from the list.

Of course, the show has featured Sykes in a few sketches over the years, even going as far as having Kenan Thompson impersonate Sykes in drag in 2005, but she has never actually hosted the show.

This may just seem like a simple oversight, after all the SNL schedule can only accommodate so many actors, comedians, singers and celebrities every season, but the issue may go much deeper than that.

Sykes is not the only comedian of color which has been snubbed by SNL in the past, and throughout the course of the show’s 48 seasons, only a handful of Black women have scored the hosting gig.

Is SNL racist?

While there will always be fans who try to hold on to the “things were different back then” mantra when it comes to the systematic exclusion of people of color on shows like SNL, there is an unsavory element to the show’s past casting decisions which simply cannot be ignored.

Garrett Morris (SNL’s first Black cast member) admitted in 2017 that he “felt robbed” after his five-year run on the show.

And while it would be nice to say that things have changed since then, Thompson regrettably said in 2013 that most modern Black female comics “weren’t ready” to appear on the show, and SNL even recently had to fire one of its new cast members because of “prior” racist remarks in 2020.

Wanda Sykes’s opinion on the SNL impersonations

In a 2015 interview with Syracuse.com, Sykes admitted that she also finds it odd that her name seems to come up only as the butt of the joke in the SNL writer’s room, and never as the star of the show.

Sykes said, “It's funny I've been on SNL played by someone else more than I've ever been on”, but she did not say anything negative about the cast members who had been tasked with impersonating her.

In fact, Sykes admitted that she was “flattered” by Taraji P. Henson’s impression, even though she did think that it was “awful” that people found her signature walk so funny.

Where you can find Wanda Sykes on television now

Though Sykes may not be acting out skits on SNL, she does have many other projects currently in the works.

Fans who want to see more of Sykes’s incredible talents will be able to find the star as a voice actor in the recently-released Star Wars: The Bad Batch and Velma (where she voices Phee and Linda, respectively).

Alternatively, they can watch a re-run from her guest-host appearance on The Daily Show. Sykes is also stars in, wrote and produced the History of the World, Part II a limited series, which premiered on Hulu in March 2023.