In his debut stand-up album (his previous releases are all prank phone call based), Roy Wood Jr. embraces his comedy roots. While the Sullivan and Son star has been doing stand-up for years, he’s never gone the distance in terms of recording an act. Some of his jokes are familiar to those who might have heard him on the Bob and Tom Comedy Central special years back, but others may have never been so graced by his jokes other than his performance on the TBS show.
First of all, the obvious. Wood is a black man. This is significant because of the chosen venue of his recording – it is in Wisconsin, a state where the only thing whiter than its winters is its population. It’s an observation he makes early, telling the audience to get pictures with him after the show and just tell their friends they met a Green Bay Packer (“They have helmets on, you don’t know what they look like.”). It adds a surprising depth to the comedy, because it sometimes tough for black comics to appeal to white listeners and vice versa. It’s not racism, but a cultural difference. Comedy is a subjective art, and if the subject is one that an audience can’t relate to, then they can’t enjoy it.
But the jokes on the album are not singular to any culture. They have a universal appeal in terms of subject matter. It is neither a black or white issue when discussing demanding refunds from panda exhibits or ATM fees. But, even more impressively, when he does tackle the issue of race, a white person can laugh without being nervous about doing so. I’ve made arguments elsewhere that all jokes are meant to be laughed at regardless of race, but Wood presents the issue from a view both within and yet outside the color spectrum. For example, listen to his track on minorities having to do agricultural work as a sort of rite of passage and his thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr.’s lack of Hispanic exemptions in his speeches.
It’s the first comedy album I’ve bought in years, and I regret nothing (my last purchase was Drew Hastings’ “Farmageddon”). Wood is a phenomenal comic and worth the money you spend on iTunes or Amazon or in a store. Go out and buy it for the love of God.