Roy Wood Jr., a long-time correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” has not stepped on the New York set in more than four months since the writers went on strike.
Fortunately, like stranded TV show hosts such as Seth Meyers and John Oliver, he has been able to book plenty of stand-up dates to fill the time and earn some income. As part of a 50-city tour through February, he has two dates on Friday, Sept. 22, at Buckhead Theatre. The early show is sold out but some tickets are still available for the late show for $35 to $39.50 at LiveNation.com.
“You would hope there would be a better reason to go on the road, but it’s ultimately a good thing,” said the 44-year-old Birmingham, Alabama, native in an interview with The Atlanta Journal Constitution. (Even when “The Daily Show” does come back, the show provides flexibility for its correspondents to tour and do other work.)
At the same time, Wood is very much behind the Writers Guild of America and their demands.
“I hope it gets resolved,” he said. “I don’t know the ins and outs of what’s happening inside the war rooms but the writers are prepared for however long it takes. You’re not going to threaten people who are broke all the time. They have this idea they can starve them into submission. Writers are the red blood cells of entertainment. Nothing happens before writers put pen to paper. The script has to be done.”
“The Daily Show” writers have it especially hard given that they create entire jokes and bits that often get thrown out when news breaks at 3 p.m. “There is always some form of chaos,” he said.
Credit: THE DAILY SHOW
Credit: THE DAILY SHOW
His stand up is a mix of observations about societal behavior and the news of the world as well as jokes created specifically for whatever city he’s in. “I do homework for a particular place a week out,” he said. “In Atlanta, we’ll get into Fani Willis, of course, and the Trump indictment. There’s a county commissioner on trial for sexual harassment. Where there’s scandal, there’s comedy.”
Topics he plans to bring up include how Americans have become lonelier and more isolated and how terrible customer service is at some stores.
“I’m following my own curiosity like complaining about the fact Walgreens employees seem to lock up the most random things from store to store. I saw them lock up socks in one place, cough medicine somewhere else, then razor blades in another. I couldn’t get a comb one time.”
He also thinks baseball “played during the day in the summer should be banned. Any sport played outdoors in the summer is weird to me. Everything should be domed!”
Wood is planning to talk more about his own personal life as a father, “which is the ultimate end game,” he said. “I just want to delve more into myself. I’m very curious about that facet of my being.”
He is making his first foray into Canada in November. “We’re going to find out how popular I am up there,” he said. “I just hope it snows or something because I am sick of this heat!”
Last month, Wood was selling tickets quickly enough at DC Improv that he scheduled three shows in one day, then decided to do a fourth because the owner said nobody had ever done four shows in a single day. So he hit the stage at 3:30, 7, 9:30 and 11:30 p.m.
“That was exhausting,” he admitted. He compared it to his stint this spring as the comedic host of the White House Correspondents Dinner, in which he made jokes about his relative fame.
“Not everyone in this room knows who I am,” Wood said on the dais in late April. “Half the room thinks I’m Kenan Thompson. The other half thinks I’m Louis Armstrong. President Biden thinks I’m the daddy from ‘Family Matters’.”
Wood said the weird part of working this particular event is that “half the venue won’t laugh at any given time and if you don’t oscillate properly, half the room will hate you.”
Ultimately, “It was a stressful culmination of every single comedic skill I had learned up to that moment.”
And the mix of people, he said, was so bizarre. “I saw Chrissy Teigen and Kellyanne Conway and Lester Holt. What in the [expletive] is this?”
“I don’t think that’s a job that you can turn your nose up to,” he said. “I don’t know what they’re planning to do as a network. If the call comes, we’ll have that conversation. I’m just working the best I can during the strike.”
The show, he added, “is in a good place and in good hands no matter which way they go.”
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.