Roy Wood Jr. has been a Comedy Central mainstay for the past several years. The Alabama native is always keeping busy, as Roy manages to juggle his Comedy Central roles as correspondent for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and continues to provide an outlet for long-form comedic storytelling as the new host on This is not Happening. Roy has just started his 2018 tour, and will be stopping at the Montreal Just For laughs Festival at the end of July. We spoke with Roy as he wrapped his newly announced Comedy Central special “No one loves you”, and was headed for a few tour dates before the JFL Festival begins.
The Interrobang: You’re getting ready to head up to Just for Laughs in Montreal are you excited for the festival?
RW: Yeah, it’s an honor to be going back to JFL, especially to be able do an hour of my own. Which is a first for me at the festival, considering I first went there 12 years ago when I did New Faces in 2006. Now it’s kind of a cool culmination, you know career-wise. To be able to go back to the festival, but this time to be doing an hour. In none of those previous instances have I had the chance to do a full hour on my own. I feel like that that’s something the festival reserves for comedians that they Trust.
The Interrobang: For the hour show, are you looking at all new material or are there plans to tape it at some point for a new special?
RW: I’m proud to announce that two weeks ago I taped my new hour special for Comedy Central. The new title is “No one loves you”. I think Comedy Central now is looking at releasing it at the back end of this year. That’s what I’m hoping for, like October or November. I know the network hasn’t set their full broadcast calendar yet, but I really do hope sooner than later. I talk a lot about issues that I know will still be pertinent then. I tried to make sure that I talked about the issues and not the people, because the people change all the time but the issues remain the same. It makes it a little more timeless if I’m able to talk about the issues that are affecting all of us. I’m really proud of this one, it’s my baby.
The Interrobang: : Do you think the hour show at JFL will set the precedent for any of your other dates on the tour?
RW: Oh hell yeah. This show will be some of the material that didn’t make the special, material that I’ve been working on for a while and just didn’t have the chance to flush it out. Now with that in mind, I’m definitely excited to be on the road this fall. I think JFL has always been the premiere place to do some of the best material… some of the most pristine material. I think the one thing for sure coming off of hosting This is not Happening is that I’m definitely more in tune with throwing a few stories into the set. So there’s going to be some of that as well, it was pretty cool to be able to mix things up.
The Interrobang: With This is Not Happening it seems you had an opportunity to continue to provide a platform for long-form comedy that isn’t found anywhere else on television. The creator and former host Ari Shaffir wanted to do something different than just the setup- punch that is commonplace, and the show really gives comedians a place to open up a little bit.
RW: Yeah, and that’s what makes This is not Happening so important. With all the stand-up comedy that’s on TV now, it still remains to be the only show if it’s kind. The networks are at almost 500 scripted shows, and God knows how many unscripted shows… I definitely feel like it makes the show that much more special.
The Interrobang: It seems like Comedy Central does a good job in this age of short attention spans of packaging the segments online. So the viewer can pick and choose to their own taste.
RW: Yeah, it gives people a lot of leeway as far as how they can see everything. Everybody’s on the go, so you can’t assume that everybody watches television in the same linear fashion. I think that’s an unfair assumption. I think the way the show is made available is also part of its success. Some of these stories are long, and the live long version of the story is more rewarding and more entertaining.
The Interrobang: You’re going to be on the Howie Mandel Gala at JFL as well, which is expected to be one of the bigger galas of the festival.
RW: The Galas are just a damn party man. I did my last one two years ago at Montreal and that is just organized chaos. Canadian audiences and JFL audiences are just so ready to laugh. I’m going to try to do my next special in Canada (laughs), we’ll see. The TV part of the festival is always top notch, it definitely forces you to bring your A game that’s for damn sure.
The Interrobang: Do you find that the segments you do as a Daily Show correspondent help you find new material that you can use in your act?
RW: No, I used to think The Daily Show would be this amazing crossover place to generate other material. But what I find is that it’s a completely different discipline. It’s like cross-training; there’s not a lot of material I do that starts at The Daily Show and ends up on stage– but there are a lot of comedy techniques and ideologies I have taken from The Daily Show. One of the main things is a desire to analyze issues at a deeper level than I might have before. So now I’m very quick to dig and dig on an issue, and look at it through multiple prisms, versus just apples and oranges. I definitely credit that attitude coming from working on The Daily Show.
The Interrobang: I remember hearing you discuss a potential new comedy series called Re-established when you interviewed with Ron Bennington on his Unmasked series, has there been any progress on the show?
RW: Yeah, we’re still cooking. Aaron McGruder who was the creator of The Boondocks franchise and I are still working on a pilot script. We’re hoping to get it shot at some point this summer, and then we’ll be rolling it out to the masses. The criminal justice system isn’t reflected well on television; there’s not a lot of shows about the rehabilitative and re-acclimation process of felons. It’s considered the most boring part of the criminal justice process, but it’s also the most important. It may feel a bit like a cop show, but a little more meaningful and something that you wouldn’t have considered normally. I think when you have all these scripted television shows out there, you got to be doing something that’s inherently different. Or else die.