Roy Wood Jr.: The Real Side Of Comedy
By J.T. Ryder
Hailing from Birmingham, Ala., Roy Wood Jr.’s style of comedy has made its mark, having a universality that is so unique in the world of comedy. Wood has been on Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,” HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam,” BET’s “Comic View” as well as becoming an on-air talent on several nationally syndicated radio shows, including the morning show he hosts in Birmingham. Wood’s accessible comedic style and realistic view of the world have made him a favorite on the comedy club circuit, as well as a favored guest on almost every late-night show.
I was able to speak briefly to Wood and we started with one of the turning points in his career, “The Bob And Tom Show.”
How did you end up hooking up with “Bob and Tom”?
Roy: I was working the local comedy club there in Indy, and the headliner that was supposed to have done “Bob and Tom Show” that day had fallen ill and couldn’t get up to do radio. “Bob and Tom” still needed a comic to fill that space. The club owner basically called me in off the bench and I went up there and was really funny and really connected with those guys. It was so surreal to be in the [“Bob and Tom”] studio when, at the time, their Comedy Central special was just an idea on paper and Tom just looked at me and said, “I think you’d be funny on that special” and the next thing you know, I’m on the DVD. [R.W.]
What do you think your next project’s going to be?
Right now I’m doing morning radio in Birmingham. I’m getting back into it with the comedy touring right now. I’m just happy to be back on the road just doing comedy at local comedy clubs because that’s where the transaction is most organic. Since September, I’ve been on the “NBC Last Comic Standing Tour,” so we worked four cities, four nights a week, every week from Sept. 8 all the way through the end of January. I learned a lot about myself as a performer and there were definitely a lot of pluses that came from it, but when you’re performing in front of 1,800 people every night, it’s a different kind of comedy. It’s not that it’s bad, I just think that the growth as a performer comes in a smaller setting. [R.W.]
You’ve been up to Dayton quite a bit. Do you have any kind of things that you do while you’re here?
I’ve always been cut and dry about just doing clubs. I don’t have much of a routine in Ohio other than eating strange chili on top of spaghetti. That’s always my move. Yeah, you can never go wrong with that. You can never go wrong with the Skyline chili (laughing). I’ll tell you one thing I did learn in Dayton one time; I learned that Skyline chili and vodka don’t go together. They are apparently not friends. They decided to work out their differences in my stomach while I was on stage. [R.W.]
I know that you were featured on the BBC’s “The World Stands Up.” Do you find British audiences to be different than American audiences?
Oh yeah, absolutely. I’m trying to think of a way to say it without putting down American audiences. English audiences are more willing to let jokes develop … that’s probably the best way to put it. They’re easier, at paying attention and at letting jokes build instead of wanting something quick and simple. If you’ll notice, a lot of comics that are from England have much more involved bits and are much more analytical, because they put in a lot more time and effort. See, somebody like Eddie Izzard or Ricky Gervais, their style of humor is much more cerebral, because the crowds over there allow this and American audiences don’t … with the exception of Mr. Bean. [R.W.]
What’s important to you at the moment?
You know, I’m trying to think … I’ve been watching the Egypt stuff kind of closely and how Americans are completely unaware of what’s going on in Egypt right now. Yeah, they’re like, “Aw, Mubarak is an asshole!” What aggravates me is the Egyptian president is basically an asshole. To quell the protest he did something that’s unprecedented. He deactivated the country’s Twitter and cell phone service to prevent the protesters from being better organized. That is just an amazing level of asshole. It’s like, “Not only am I going to not let you uprise, I’m going to disable your means of communication.” Even at the height of the civil rights movement … when dogs were attacking black people and the Klan with their flaming crosses and firebombing homes and lynching, Martin Luther King still had a house phone. There’s just some shit you don’t do. [R.W.]
I’m sure it was tapped.
Yeah, I’m sure they tapped it, but at least you could still make calls to let people know what time choir rehearsal was … [R.W.]
Roy Wood Jr. will be appearing at Wiley’s Comedy Niteclub, 101 Pine St. on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 8:00 p.m., Friday, Feb. 25 at 9:00 p.m. and for two shows on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 8:00 and 10:30 p.m. Admission ranges from $5 to $12. For more information or to make reservations, call (937) 224-JOKE or go online to wileyscomedyclub.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer J.T. Ryder at email@example.com.