You won't hear a discouraging word about New Jersey during Wanda Sykes' stand-up shows at the Borgata's Music Box this weekend.

"I love Atlantic City," she says on the phone, "and I'm really impressed with Chris Christie and the job he's done with Sandy relief. Jersey is fun."

This represents a big turnaround for the comedienne when it comes to the Garden State. She used to joke in her act that Jersey was so toxic women should get mammograms at the toll booth.

"That was years ago," she says, "when I was actually living in New Jersey. Now I just pass through.

In the '90s, when Sykes was trying to break into show business in Manhattan, she lived in Woodbridge.

She left a job at (no joke) the National Security Agency in Maryland to pursue her dream.

"I was a contracting specialist at the N.S.A.," she says. "I just bought stuff . . . spy equipment. Basically, I just shopped all day."

On this morning, the headlines are all about NBA center Jason Collins. Sykes, who came out in 2008, says, "It's great. I'm very proud of him to come out and be the first male in a major sport. It's huge."

She can't help noticing similar news got a lot less attention last month, when Brittney Griner came out after being drafted No. 1 by the WNBA.

"That was pretty low key," Sykes jokes. "That's the coverage the WNBA gets as opposed to the NBA."

The performer has spent some time of her own shouldering that "first" banner.

When she headlined President Obama's first White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2009, she was hailed as the first openly gay person and the first African American woman to entertain at the annual event.

She missed last weekend's edition of the dinner, featuring Conan O'Brien, because she was busy celebrating the fourth birthday of the twins she shares with partner Alex. (The couple split their time between homes in Delaware County and Los Angeles.)

But she doesn't envy O'Brien. "The president was hilarious when I did it," she says. "I was nervous having to follow him. I sat there thinking, 'He's really funny. The president. What the hell is going on?' "

Sykes says her comedy act this weekend "is like a snapshot of what's happening in my life and the country. It's a little bit of everything. I talk about my family, what part of my body is falling apart.

"I'm really looking forward to this Michael Jackson trial," she says. "Any time you have a LaToya sighting, that's a great thing."

Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552, dhiltbrand@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv.