In her new special "Herlarious," comedian Wanda Sykes sits down with her fellow comics for frank discussions on topics ranging from jokes gone bad to sexism in the comedy clubs. As they take a close look at the comedy industry -- and themselves -- the women expose what lies beneath the layers of funny. In one such roundtable discussion, Sykes asks comedians Tracey Ashley, Carmen Lynch and Marina Franklin why they got into stand-up comedy in the first place.
"When you said, 'I want to do stand-up,' what is your ultimate goal? What did you want to get out of this?" Sykes poses to the group.
Ashley says that she was always chasing bigger shows and larger audiences. "I've always wanted to do theater shows -- bigger shows," she says. "I said, 'I don't want to be famous, but I want to be the greatest comedian.'"
Though Lynch says she fell into stand-up comedy by accident, she says can't imagine not performing and making people laugh. "I want to just do it forever," she tells Sykes. "I want to do every room possible. Theaters, small rooms, the cellar, anywhere."
"Ideally, [the goal is] to become the best at this," Franklin says. "When you do perform and you're in front of a theater, which is ideal, you want a lot of people to get your jokes... You don't want those five people just snickering at your jokes and the rest of the audience [shrugging]. You want everyone really enjoying you."
Sykes agrees. "To me, there's nothing like hearing people laugh," she says. "I think that's why we do it. So, of course, it's natural to say, 'I want to play theaters and bigger shows,' because it's like a drug. You make one person laugh, now I want to make two people laugh. Now I want to make a theater laugh. Now I want to make an arena laugh."
The drive to keep audiences laughing is what ultimately keeps these comics going. "When you have that goal of, 'I want to be the greatest,'... everything else just falls into line," Sykes says. "You have to love this to do it -- and to be good at it."