McGinnis: ‘Last Comic’ finalist Roy Wood at Fat Fish BlueWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Comedian Roy Wood Jr. first came through the Toledo area about two years ago. To say a lot has happened in the interim is an understatement.
“I’ve been lucky to catch a couple of breaks where television is concerned every year,” he said in an interview with Toledo Free Press Star.
Wood, who will perform for four nights at Fat Fish Blue in Perrysburg starting May 5, got perhaps his biggest break on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” His run as a top 10 finalist on last year’s edition of the hit show certainly garnered him more fans, but Wood said being on the show had positives and negatives.
“In hindsight, ‘Last Comic Standing’ was fun, but there was a damn pressure cooker, man. Every week, you have to be funnier. Next week, funnier. Week after that, funnier! I did ‘Conan’ a couple of weeks ago, and that was one of the most laid-back, relaxing experiences, because it wasn’t about funny-funny-funny-funny-funny now. I was able to relax a little bit, which changed the way I perform during that time.”
He also said that he’s somewhat dubious about how successful competitions like “Last Comic” are in cultivating new talent.
“I don’t think the public as a whole benefits when there’s too many talent-based reality contest-type shows. ‘Last Comic Standing’ was, like, great, but do you wanna judge — I’m a believer that true talent rises to the top,” he said. “And the fact that you win or lose on a game show shouldn’t be the barometer by which the public measures you,” Wood said.
Wood had to work in comedy for more than a decade before finding his way to the “Last Comic” spotlight. He was majoring in broadcast journalism at Florida A&M University, interning at a station in Tallahassee, Fla., when the chance to make a name comedically came up.
“I started doing comedy while I was a junior in college,” he said. “And the transition basically occurred because I was doing hard news as an intern, but the comedian for the morning show that I was interning for in Tallahassee, he got a job that he had to be there at 8 a.m.. So, from 8 to 10 a.m., I got to goof off as well. And that’s kinda where the love of telling jokes and getting the gift for running my mouth came from, and it just kinda bubbled up from there.”
Wood said the evolution of his stand-up persona came with time.
“Who I am comedically is nothing like who I was in 1998 when I started,” he said. “You know, I started in ’98, I was 19, I was just a college student who was sick of his roommates eating his food.And that has since grown into, I’m a guy who yells at Girl Scouts because he believes the cookie box has gotten shorter. I’m much more frustrated about simplistic stuff. So, for me, a lot of my act, in terms of where it comes from and how I develop it — I start with what makes me angry. And then I find the funny in that.”
His ability to find comedy in the petty annoyances that unite us all has led to a remarkable crossover audience. Wood has opened for comedians as diverse as D.L. Hughley and Ron White.
“The one thing in my comedy that I’ve always prided myself in doing is just being honest about who I was and talking about myself,” he said. “And as long as you’re talking about yourself, it doesn’t matter if you’re opening for Katt Williams or for Bill Engvall. All I’m doing is telling a story about the time my ex-girlfriend and I got into an argument — that’s just a base story we can all relate to.”
In addition, Wood has continued to work extensively in radio. His popular prank phone calls are syndicated to more than 50 stations nationwide. (Three CDs worth of the calls have already been released, and he said a fourth is in the works.) He is a regular on “The Bob and Tom Show” and Jamie Foxx’s show on Sirius XM.
“I also have my own morning show now in Birmingham, called ‘The Roy Wood, Jr. Show.’ And that’s definitely been getting a pretty good reaction. It’s definitely something new, it’s definitely a work in progress.”
And for Fat Fish Blue audiences, Wood promises an entertaining evening.
“If the people of Toledo come out to see me, they can expect to meet a guy that carries the same frustrations as them,” he said. “Somebody dinged your car in the parking lot when you weren’t looking? That person in front of you that is determined to write a check in line at the grocery store? Yeah. I’m your guy.”
Email Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.