C.J.: Wanda Sykes wanders at the Orpheum

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 1, 2012 - 7:18 PM

When you're early, as Wanda Sykes was Friday for her reported 8:40 p.m. stage time at the Orpheum, being a little lost is not a big deal.

The comedian, actor and Emmy-winning "Chris Rock Show" writer, plus the two jokers with whom she was traveling, were lost for about a minute when they could not locate the Orpheum's clearly marked "STAGE DOOR." It's possible the minds of the men with Sykes were elsewhere. When the limo's doors swung open they were arguing about talents of "the Cowboys." Their minds might still have been on "the Cowboys" when they took a wrong turn, although they might have been distracted by a question I asked Sykes.

I wanted to know if Sykes received the T-shirt I delivered to her assistant last time I paid to see her perform.

In 2004, when Sykes appeared down the street at the Pantages, I was in the audience, laughing hard. Post-show, with T-shirt in hand, I was allowed downstairs to possibly meet Sykes for two minutes, after she finished taking pictures with fans. As I looked at Sykes, and she looked at me across the room -- I think we were the only two black people down there -- the comedian's assistant informed me Sykes wasn't going to have time for me. So I gave Sykes' handler the T-shirt, which read: "Evidence suggests that Sen. Strom Thurmond found black women irresistible." The assistant got a chuckle out of the inscription.

Last week, Sykes didn't remembere any such T-shirt.

"I'm sorry," said Sykes, who in reality probably was thinking Why do these chuckleheads think their crap is memorable?

Down the walk to the stage door the trio trundled before making the wrong turn. There are several doors down there, and some of them lack handles. These are either emergency exits or doors that open from the inside so the crowd doesn't have to leave via the clogged main aisles.

It took about a minute, and maybe a phone call, before their security guy figured out where to go, as you can see in my startribune.com/video, which includes them walking in front of my camera lens one more time than they probably preferred.

While editing my 60th 2012 video, I kept feeling as though I recognized the voice of one of the guys with Sykes, arguing about "the Cowboys." I'm now almost positive that's the voice of Sykes' pal and opening act, Keith Robinson.

I blame Robinson for the failure of her late-night "The Wanda Sykes Show" on FOX, where she inexplicably gave him a regular role, even though he's not (and I'm serious about this) very funny. Skipping last week's performance means I can't gripe that Wanda Sykes' opening act was late and he wasn't funny!

Their limo arrived at 8:05 p.m. by my watch; the opening act was scheduled for 8 p.m.

Gotta give Sykes credit for showing more respect for fans' time than, say, Prince.

The regional Emmys

WCCO-TV meteorologist Chris Shaffer needs a T-shirt that reads: "The HUGGER Is Here!"

The always sunny meteorologist was passing out hugs at the Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Awards pre-party at Minneapolis' Crave. Shaffer hadn't even won his "Best on Camera, Weather" Emmy yet. It was the first time Shaffer had been nominated for an Emmy, according to his WCCO-TV colleague, Jason DeRusha, prez of the chapter.

"He doesn't get a lot of recognition, I don't think," said DeRusha, but "he is definitely one of the most-liked people in the newsroom. People are happy about that."

At the party, Chris' wife, Gloria, told me her husband hugs everybody.

Gloria said a woman recently asked Chris for money and he replied: "I don't have any money, but I can give you a hug."

"And she took the hug and we had a nice embrace on the corner of 11th and Nicollet right outside the station," said Shaffer. "I could tell no one ever said that to her before, and she was taken aback."

Also at the pre-party was WCCO-TV anchor Frank Vascellaro, out of uniform -- as in a suit without a tie.

"I wear a tie to work every day," Vascellaro told me. "I told Amelia I wasn't wearing a tie tonight."

Vascellaro beat out, among others, his wife and co-anchor Amelia Santaniello for an anchoring Emmy. According to a WCCO.com story, in Vascellaro's acceptance speech he credited the "bright and committed" people around him for helping him do his job. And he noted he is "extraordinarily comfortable on the set with my co-anchor and love working with her every day."

KARE11's Emmy Winning Machine Boyd Huppert won 12 awards.

"Let me clarify, my name's on them but there are other people's names on them in many cases -- photographers, you know what I mean," said Huppert, sounding a little embarrassed by the bounty Monday.

Lindsey Seavert, who left WCCO-TV to work with master storyteller Huppert at KARE, also won an Emmy for work she did at 'CCO, Boyd told me.

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen on FOX 9 Thursday mornings.

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