Roy Wood Jr. dissects the hilarity of modern happiness in “Imperfect Messenger”
Stand-up Roy Wood Jr. is back on stage for his third Comedy Central special, “Imperfect Messenger”, where he addresses the hilarity of humanity’s current interpretation of “the pursuit of happiness.”
“The more I watched what I wanted to talk about, the more I felt I wanted to connect with the collective idea of happiness and what happiness looks like now,” the 42-year-old comic told PageSix. “This is what I wanted to explore.
“Some people put filters on their face to feel good,” he continued. “Some people stuff themselves with documentaries, some people do public service, some people do mass shootings, plastic surgery is a lot.”
Wood’s observations were developed at a time when happiness took a back seat to survival for many, as COVID-19 changed the times in such a way that material written before the pandemic felt ” old, dated and of a different ideology ‘to the veteran scene.
“There might be 10 to 15 minutes of police reform material that was already there, but that’s about it,” says Wood. “Covid was like, everyone went to war, and now we’re all back. It is difficult to match this with older hardware.
One problem with creating a special mid-pandemic was finding pieces to work in while also crafting its pieces. With his usual spots in New York – The Comedy Cellar and Gotham Comedy Club – closed along with the rest of the city, Woods rented his own space and did a series of shows he called “The Test Kitchen”.
“It was understood that these would be new jokes, and we bagged everyone’s phones,” Woods explained. “It actually helped me refine my process faster than I would have in a traditional comedy club.
“The nice thing about being offsite is that it’s almost strictly my fans who already understand how I think, so I can get to the center of the joke faster.”
The crowd is irreplaceable in comedy, which many TV hosts have learned once they had no choice but to spit their best bits at exhausted staff members during the pandemic.
While some shows have reintroduced audiences to the studio, “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”, where Wood is a senior correspondent, is back in the studio without the roar of the crowd – not good for a man who is used to instant feedback on his material.
“The Daily Show: At Home” was one thing, because we are all at home, ”he explains. “You don’t expect laughter. On set now, Trevor wanted to do something a little more intimate than what we did before, before COVID. Now when the team laughs it’s like, ‘oh okay, somebody’s listening’, but it’s just hard to do comedy in a vacuum.
“The numbers show that people support the new format, which is great, but as an artist you still want to laugh now,” he said. “I don’t mean to laugh in the comments section on the Internet.”
He certainly got the feedback he needed on filming his final special, killing the Denver crowd with a well-rounded mix of poignant observations on everything from Brazilian facelifts to performing white “allies” who just don’t know already when STFU.
There is an ally, however, the comic thinks he deserves more recognition, though he’s not sure how the Oscar winner will take the name.
“I just hope Leo DiCaprio isn’t mad at me.”
“Imperfect Messenger” premieres tonight, October 29, at 10:30 pm. on Comedy Central.