There’s so much going on in the city as we lead up to the weekend! Of course, the Cleveland Cavaliers are having their opening game tonight, but in the midst of all the madness and excitement, there’s another major showing going on! Comedian Roy Wood Jr. has made his way into the city, and is performing the entire weekend at the Cleveland Improv! Naturally, we had to catch up with him before his first show to get the rundown on everything he’s got going on, and just what he’s got planned for his weekend run. He also throws in a few words & updates on the hit TBS sitcom Sullivan & Son, which recently wrapped up its third season. You’re definitely in for a few laughs with this exclusive. And if you’re in the city, you definitely don’t want to miss out on the show! You can purchase tickets at www.clevelandimprov.com
Urban Grandstand Digital: I really appreciate your time this evening before your show.
Roy Wood Jr.: No man, I appreciate you reaching out to make a little magic. It’s a symbiotic relationship, we both benefit…
Urban Grandstand Digital: It’s definitely good to talk, with you being here in the city this weekend. Have you been downtown in all the madness going on for the Cavs opener?
Roy Wood Jr.: I just left that chaos! Good lord! Y’all don’t play around here.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I was just down there myself
Roy Wood Jr.: We were over in front of the House of Blues. Everybody’s out there and it’s all love and excitement.
Urban Grandstand Digital: So you’re at the Improv tonight….
Roy Wood Jr.: Yea man, you know what, I’m here all weekend. I’m at the Improv through Sunday! Tickets sales are good tonight, considering I’m up against some dude named Lebron (laughing). I never heard of this gentleman, but you know….
Urban Grandstand Digital: The tickets are definitely selling good, but then you do a good job with your shows when you’re here, so it makes sense.
Roy Wood Jr.: You know, all I’ve ever tried to do with my comedy is drop in a little truth here and there, and hopefully those that appreciate it will come out to see it. So far so good! I’ve been able to build a quick 16-year career off this.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I love the fact that aside from your career in comedy, you have a degree in Journalism. Do you have thoughts of moving back to that?
Roy Wood Jr.: I don’t feel like I’ve ever really left it. I feel like I’ve always been dabbling in it to some degree. I did morning radio for over a decade, and I still dabble in afternoons in Atlanta. That’s been a great foundation for writing and how to present my thoughts, and also how to analyze the world. Now that I’m foraying into a little bit more of the sports world, and doing things for Yahoo! Sports Radio and ESPN, there’s still a journalistic element to the presentation of the information, even if it’s funny there’s a certain way to tell the story and shape the script, so in that regard I still consider myself a Journalist. They don’t teach you the fundamentals to comedy in Journalism school, but I definitely feel like to some degree, I’ve learned a lot about how to properly present stuff. As a comedian, all you’re doing is reporting on the world, or reporting on your life. It’s no different.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I can appreciate the fact that you ventured over to Yahoo! Sports. How did that come about?
Roy Wood Jr.: You know what happened man, it’s basically a situation where I play in this cover 5 league. It’s like a football pick. It’s not really fantasy football, it’s not fair to compare the two, but there’s a radio show, Steve Czaban Morning Show over on Yahoo! Sports Radio. They do some things with cover 5 as well. I was doing a cover 5 league for the Sullivan & Son television show that I’m on TBS. So I connected with the guy who runs cover 5, and he asked since I was doing it for the sitcom, if I wanted to call in on the radio show to promote it. Of course, I said hell yeah. I called in once or twice and we hit it off so we then figured out an idea for a segment for me. I do it every week, and it’s called ‘Guaranteed Ass Whoopins of the Week. It’s literally just the most asinine possible scenario you could think of for a game. That’s pretty much all it is. It’s fun and it’s just something I enjoy doing. I love talking sports and just shooting the breeze, and I do a video for it as well. That’s the really cool part of it.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I just love the fact that you dabble in some of everything and do a number of things. I think it’s awesome.
Roy Wood Jr.: I appreciate it man. I just feel like there’s no one recipe anymore. I learned back in ’06. I got blessed with an opportunity to do David Letterman. Up until that point, we [comedians] were always sold the dream that all you had to do was make it to Letterman, or Leno, and then you get a career and everything is great after that. I did Letterman and it was a blessing, but I still stayed with my momma for almost another year. There’s nothing overnight about any of this. Even the guys doing Letterman and getting mileage out of their appearances, it was just a much different landscape. People’s attention is divided, so my focus should be divided. That’s the only way I’m going to have a chance at reaching everybody.
Urban Grandstand Digital: You’re a perfect example though, of working hard and achieving your dreams and goals.
Roy Wood Jr.: That’s it. You just bust your ass and figure out a way to survive in the meantime. If you have the ability to endure you’ll outlast anyone else in your industry. Most people aren’t really in it for that long haul. They claim they are.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Sullivan & Son is hugely popular man. Obviously, it’s in the third season, so everyone’s doing something right. What do you think it was that made it stand the test of time?
Roy Wood Jr.: I think what gave us a little bit of mileage with that was the honesty, and writing. The writing reflects real life and real conversation. I think that’s been the main thing a lot of people connect with in terms of our fans. If you look at our show in comparison to a lot of other shows, it’s definitely more of a traditional feel and a throwback in a sense to the sitcoms of yesteryear, you know…of the 80s and 90s, that had a totally different vibe to them. I believe our show fills a void while updating the dialogue and the situations to reflect present day America. I think that’s something any and everybody can relate to. There’s more minorities on the show than there are white people on the cast; and you know, let the census tell it that’s the way America is going too (laughing). Lots of things going on, that ultimately will help us stay at that forefront.
Urban Grandstand: So what direction do you see the show going in? Obviously, it’s at an all-time high in terms of popularity. What direction do you see it going?
Roy Wood Jr.: I think it will definitely hash out more of the love storyline between Steve Byrne and Valerie Azlynn. They’ve added a love interest now, after three seasons. We’re still waiting to see if we’re going to get a fourth season. We finished our third season at the top of September, and I think the numbers will support a fourth season, but the bureaucracy and negotiations of that is stuff that I’m not privy to, so who knows how that works. But the ratings and fan support suggest we would get another season. I don’t see why we wouldn’t.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Well like I said in the beginning man, I greatly appreciate you for your time today. Do you have anything big planned for your shows this weekend?
Roy Wood Jr.: Man, I just want Cleveland to come out and laugh. This is one of my favorite cities to perform in. Top two or three for sure. I’ve always had a blast here and it’s always been a good time. I don’t expect it to be anything different. I’m anxious to get on stage and see how everyone is doing and get the jokes flowing.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I’m usually there on Friday nights, which is usually the toughest night in terms of crowd and audience, but as long as the comedian on is cool, there’s usually no problem. I’m looking forward to seeing the show.
Roy Wood Jr.: That’ll be dope! I’ll see you when you get down there…