This essay theorizes how black feminist comedic performance queers white supremacist and heteronormative notions of time by centering Wanda Sykes's performance in her comedy special I'ma Be Me and her performance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner—both in 2009. Sykes's jokes articulate how queer bodies of color experience temporalities that are in constant tension with dominant narrations of “coming out,” national heritage, and white nostalgia. I argue that Sykes uses comedic performance to: (1) reveal the limits of “progressive” coming out narratives for black queer women, (2) reinstate black subjectivity into US collective memory, (3) debunk myths of the United States as “post-” identity politics, and (4) challenge broader publics to think beyond linear and binary constructions of identity/ies, space, and time.
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