In a time where so many people have fewer and fewer options to find ways to keep their minds off of the coronavirus pandemic, comedian Roy Wood Jr. aims to provide a brief respite wherever he can.
“I am growing concerned for a lot of my friends and relatives, and other people down South who I know don’t have resources or capable government officials who can put it all together,” said Roy Wood Jr. “I try to find what everyone is mad about and what’s the funny angle that can help us through. With corona [virus], there’s not a lot of ‘funny’ with the center of the issue.”
Wood, a correspondent with Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” not only creates online videos showing the trials and tribulations of parents having to deal with their kids during the pandemic, he also has lent his comedic chops to several fundraisers for comedians and service industry/hospitality employees who aren’t working right now.
One of the online shows he performed was with Chicago comedian Hannibal Buress.
ME: Have you taken a bath during quarantine?"— Roy Wood Jr- Ex Jedi (@roywoodjr) April 5, 2020
"....Define Bath"- @hannibalburess "Pro" @NBA2K Player
Had a good time Saturday raising money for our fellow comedians in need. Donate at https://t.co/7hINmfOlSB pic.twitter.com/HzUDsgcXnA
“Being a situation where you can’t figure out what’s next, I’ve been there before,” said Roy Wood Jr. “I feel really bad for the comics, a lot of guys I know who are very close to being on the verge of great exposure in the industry. And, you know, we don’t even know what the industry is gonna look like.”
Wood is quite familiar with making do with the cards he’s dealt.
After all, a lack of options for watching baseball — his favorite sport— during his Birmingham, Alabama, upbringing pushed him toward Cubs fandom.
Wood says two of his favorite Cubs growing up were outfielder Andre Dawson and infielder Shawon Dunston. On the current roster he likes shortstop Javier Baez and catcher Willson Contreras.
“That’s what came on TV in Alabama,” Wood recalls. “By the time I got home from school at 3 p.m., I’d watch the game before watching ‘DuckTales’ and ‘Darkwing Duck.’ We only had one cable box, and the Atlanta Braves came on at night; my dad wouldn’t give up the remote.”
His true connections with Chicago, where he has family members, took effect long before he became a Cubs fan.
His late father Roy Wood Sr. was an announcer with WVON — Chicago’s legendary black-owned radio station, where he had a radio show with Cubs legend Ernie Banks.
During his time at WVON, Roy Wood Sr. was pulled over for a traffic violation by a Chicago police officer who he thought had a great voice, so he invited the officer over to the station to create a demo reel.
That police officer was Don Cornelius, who went on to create the iconic dance TV show “Soul Train.”
When Roy Wood Jr. comes to Chicago to visit family or for work, he likes to visit Wrigley Field, eat deep-dish pizza and snack on the city’s unique variety of popcorn. The brand he prefers isn’t Garrett’s Popcorn; he’s a Nuts on Clark man.
In 2018, he did a segment on Chicago’s issues with gun violence where he toured intentionally divested communities on the South Side with CeaseFire, a group that attempts to de-escalate potentially violent situations through mediation.
“That was one of the most meaningful things that I’ve ever done on the show in the name of journalism,” said Roy Wood Jr. “Thankfully, we were able to find a couple of laughs in there as well, because we’re still a comedy program, but we didn’t find laughs at the expense of the people dealing with the issues at hand.”