Friday, 24 October 2014 14:01

From Radio to the Stage: Roy Wood Jr.'s Journey to Stand-Up

Written by  Josh Spanninga
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Roy Wood Jr. Roy Wood Jr.

Roy Wood Jr.
Dr. Grins, Grand Rapids
Nov. 20-22, show times at 5:30, 8, 9 and 10:30 p.m.
$10-$20, (616) 356-2000

Most of the biggest comics out there are used to doing early morning on-air interviews on radio shows every once in a while. Comedian Roy Wood Jr., however, has been on both sides of the mic; not only as the interviewee, but also as radio host. Upon graduating from Florida A&M University with a degree in broadcast journalism, Wood set out for a career in radio, which he thought would be a perfect supplement to his dreams of performing stand-up. What Wood discovered in his years as a radio host surprised him.

I thought radio was going to help my comedy,” Woods said. “I guess in a sense it did, but radio didn't make me funnier. I feel like radio gave me the opportunity to understand how other people see the world, through the callers and interacting with the listeners. When you start understanding and seeing how other people see things, you can better analyze stuff.”

For years, Wood balanced his stand-up career with his job as a radio host, performing prank calls and appearing on various morning shows. While Wood still dabbles in radio a bit, it's easy to see his stand-up career has eclipsed his desire to be heard on the airwaves.

Then, in 2012, Wood got the offer to appear on the TBS sitcom "Sullivan and Son" in a recurring role as a character named, well, Roy. While he's thrilled to be on the show, at the end of the day Woods says every project he takes on is a way to further his stand-up.

As a stand-up comic, you want to challenge yourself in other facets of entertainment,” Wood said. “So being funny, plus being an actor, helps to bring more people to your stand-up.”

Of course, working on all of these projects, from "Sullivan and Son" to his “Guaranteed Ass Whoopins” video series, takes a lot of time, which Wood could normally use to write new material. Still, he isn't in any mood to turn down any opportunities.

For me, now is the time to work harder,” Wood said. “Now is the time to work all night, getting something done instead of slacking back, because none of this is permanent, and this comedian that you may have liked five, 10 years ago, nobody's heard much from them lately.”

There's no way Wood is ready to fade out of the scene anytime soon. If you missed him in August when the "Sullivan and Son" tour stopped at Dr. Grins, don't worry – he'll be back in Grand Rapids on Nov. 20-22 in support of his own tour.

With more than a decade of experience under his belt, Wood has a stand-up philosophy of his own, one that helps him deliver the laughs.

I feel like the best comedy is constructed with the purpose of telling the audience one of two things: Who are you as a person or how do you feel about something in the world,” Wood said. “For me, that is the foundation of good comedy material.”

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