CL: You went to school at Florida A&M and did some radio in Florida as well. Any memories of Tampa? When did you first perform in this area?
Wood: When I started back in 1998, the open mic at Side Splitters was one of the spots that I frequented. I would drive down from Tallahassee once a month.
You're well known on radio and television, but you've also been doing stand-up for nearly 15 years. Which do you prefer, and what does stand-up allow you to do that the other outlets can't?
Stand-up will always be No. 1 no matter what else happens in my career. It’s the only genre of entertainment that I’m in control of. To be an actor in film or TV other people have to approve of you, and in radio you can be fired at any time. In comedy, all you have to do is be funny and you can literally do it until you die. You can gain weight, you can get old, you can be opinionated — and it only helps your act. Comedy is by far the career with the most longevity even if it isn’t the most lucrative in the short term. Half the stuff you could say on stage as a comedian would get you suspended or fired from most radio stations.
You're also known for your popular telephone pranks from the radio and on your CDs. Do you incorporate some of that energy into your stand-up performances, and how do you do you bring that to the stage?
For about six months I experimented with doing pranks live on stage. But the logistics of getting a good prank call can sometimes slow down the momentum of a live show and yield either tons of laughs — or none at all. Rather than leave the quality of my show up to fate, I’d rather just get on stage with the jokes that I know for sure will work.
You've opened for comedians such as Monique and Ron White — both funny in their own right, but different in style and audience appeal. What is it about your comedy that makes you a good fit for such diverse audiences?
I try my best to talk about things that I’ve experienced in this world, and I’ve been blessed enough to be in enough situations that we can all relate to. Regardless of age or race I’ve tried to just give my take on things we can all relate to: Sports, love, politics, bad service at restaurants, etc.
You received your degree in broadcast journalism. Do you see comedy as a form of "journalism" and do you approach current events with both a journalistic and comedic eye? How does that affect your stand-up?
I totally consider what I do to be journalistic. I am a reporter; it’s just a different delivery system. It’s my job, whenever I can, to educate people on things they might not have thought about on issues that they might not have known about.
This is part of what made George Carlin so amazing. He could take an issue that everyone was already talking about, package it up and present it through three or four brand new perspectives. Even if you didn’t agree with him, you left with more to think about. Chris Rock and Lewis Black are good in this way, too.
How would you describe your stand-up for both fans and people who aren't as familiar with you?
My comedy is best described by Entertainment Weekly as "Charismatic Crankiness"
See Roy Rood Jr. Sept. 26-29, tonight at 8:30 p.m., Friday at 8 and 10:15 p.m., Saturday at 6, 8 and 10:15 p.m., and Sunday at 7 p.m. Side Splitters, 12938 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa, sidesplittersocmedy.com, 813-960-1197, roywoodjr.com, Twitter: @roywoodjr.