Parents and Quinnipiac students alike could be heard dying of laughter this past weekend, as comedian Roy Wood Jr. put on a hysterical stand-up performance on Oct. 17 in Alumni Hall. Fellow Quinnipiac student, Brad DePrima, opened for Wood with some quick jokes. DePrima thoroughly warmed up the crowd for more laughter to come, with funny and relatable stories.
Wood comically started the show by mocking the overkill of water bottles presented to him on the stage. He jokingly said he thought he was telling jokes, not doing an aerobics class. Wood poked fun at everything from crying babies and college book buy-backs to fast-food restaurants and hunting. The Birmingham, Ala. native joked about his own college experience, putting on an entertaining show for the wide range of audience members present during Parents Weekend. The room was rarely silent; Wood kept the jokes coming in full force and proved himself worthy of all the praise he received.
Wood began doing stand-up comedy as a junior in college. However, it was in high school when he was on the baseball team pulling pranks on the coach, that he realized he had the ability to make people laugh.
“Yet, as far as identifying this as a career, it wasn’t until after college,” Wood pointed out.
Wood graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism with average job offer salaries ranging from $12,000 to $14,000. He was making about that salary every year doing comedy, which is when he desired to pursue it full time, thinking “I love this more. There’s more freedom in it. I’m going to stick with this and see where it goes. And, that was 11 years ago. And I don’t regret the decision at all.”
Surprisingly, Wood did not grow up in a funny household. His parents were strict.
“My mom’s a college professor and my father was a radio journalist,” he said. “So, I mean, they were very strict, very regimented and I was an only child so I had plenty of time to be alone in my head as a kid.and so, it was through that that I was able to kind of just explore my brain and all of that stuff.”
As far as the primary comedic influences in Wood’s life, the two people he admires most are George Carlin and Chris Rock.
“I thank those two guys for what I’m trying to and what I hope to accomplish with my comedy, those two guys are probably the best examples of a direction that I would like to go with,” Wood said.
Wood’s jokes were all across the board. Yet, he said it is easiest and most enjoyable for him to make fun of people in the crowd that holler out. “When a heckler says something crazy, yeah, it’s a field day,” he said.
There are certain topics that he has more fun making fun of, yet these ideas often prove to be a little more difficult to write.
“When you’re doing race-based jokes in a predominantly white room, you have to be conscious of the audience, and it’s not as easy to pull off a joke where the foundation of the punch line is centered on race,” he said. “It’s very difficult to do. But, when it’s done right, it is very enjoyable.”
Wood said politics, in particular, is easy to make fun of.
Despite the wide range of ages present on Saturday night, Wood did not seem nervous at all about catering his jokes to young and old alike. He put on a clean performance, yet had the entire room in an uproar laughing. It is the family aspect of comedy that everyone can take part in that Wood truly loves.
“I enjoy the fact that everybody can come and laugh at what I do. and I might change up some of the language tonight but those jokes as you heard them and me doing a squeaky clean show is at its core the truth,” he said. “And, that stuff.that’s beautiful.”
Wood recalls performing shows in front of 7-year-olds as well as one of the oldest audience members being 92. He particularly enjoys doing stand-up for these mixed types of audiences, which just demonstrates how truly diverse and talented Wood is.
Although Wood has been on a wide variety of television shows performing his jokes, his favorite was on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” “because it was the most prestigious one of the few shows. a lot of comedians do it for years and years and never get that opportunity,” he said. “And, I feel blessed to have had that opportunity. That’s just amazing. Words can’t describe how I feel about that.”
However, “Showtime at The Apollo” proved to be the scariest experience for Wood. It was his first time performing on television and on this particular show the audience is allowed to boo the performers. It is hard to believe someone as funny and down-to-earth as Wood was intimidated.
“I came very close to getting booed,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I should have been booed. And, I got off stage early.I ran off there, I was petrified. It’s filmed in Harlem on a Friday night at 11 o’clock. And, everybody’s drunk. But, it comes on Sundays at 6 p.m. So, you think it’s some cutesy, after church. but they edited out the fight in the third deck.”
It’s hard to imagine the courage it takes to get up in front of people telling jokes, feeling so vulnerable, wondering if they’re going to laugh or not. Perhaps that is why Wood’s experience at The Apollo is one of the top three scariest of his life. However, he is content with his career and being able to do something he truly loves.
Wood’s next performance is scheduled for November on “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.” The date is not yet confirmed, so be on the lookout. More funny clips, prank phones calls and tour dates can be found at Wood’s Web site: roywoodjr.com.