Wanda Sykes can be annoying, sure. But in the right context she can be brilliantly annoying.

Wanda Sykes can be annoying, sure. But in the right context she can be brilliantly annoying.

In guest spots on Curb Your Enthusiasm and as a foil to Julia Louis-Dreyfus on The New Adventures of Old Christine, she's riotous even when she's grating. Few scenarios on TV are as funny as Sykes berating white people for some grave injustice, real or perceived.

Sykes shines as a situational comic, so of course she thrives in sitcoms. Talk shows? Not so much.

The premiere of The Wanda Sykes Show, Sykes' new late-night Saturday variety hour on Fox, accomplished the impossible: It made me miss MADtv.

Sykes' monologue was so unfunny that her audience often didn't know when to laugh. Her attacks on right-wing agitators were stilted and stale - it almost makes me think Fox allowed her on the air to make liberals look stupid.

Her attempts at innocuous, lighthearted humor had me thinking she was trying to sterilize her material for a mass audience, but then the raunchy pre-taped bit about recycling sex toys also lacked any semblance of wit. From start to finish, the entire enterprise seemed under-rehearsed and awkward rather than loose and free-flowing.

Either Sykes has overcompensated by dumbing down her shtick too far, or she's not capable of creating comedy out of thin air. Her stand-up specials suggest she can do much better than this. If not, she should get back to ridiculing Larry David post-haste.