Q&A: Roy Wood Jr. on Clusterfest, Storytelling and His New Hosting Gig

The Daily Show correspondent explains why festivals are like high school reunions and talks about becoming the new host of This Is Not Happening.

As a correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Roy Wood Jr. has made a name for himself as a stand-out talent. His unique brand of comedy lands somewhere between charismatic and mildly pissed off. Wood’s charming-meets-cranky personality has been a defining characteristic of his career, from hosting a morning talk show to his recent stand-up special, Father Figure.

But don’t let Wood’s onscreen persona fool you. He’s ridiculously delightful and kind, and we’re thrilled that we were able to catch up with him at Comedy Central’s first-ever Colossal Clusterfest to talk about hanging out with fellow comedians and the secret to telling the perfect story.

Comedy Central: What’s been the most exciting thing about Clusterfest so far?

Roy Wood Jr.: This is one of these festivals where, as a comic, you’re excited about all the other shows except for the one you’re performing on. Like, I’m already mad that my show conflicts with two other shows that I wanna see.

Which comedians are you hoping to see?

Joe DeRosa. I’ve got a lotta love for Joe DeRosa. Big Jay Oakerson… Those guys are real cool. For comedians, any type of festival kinda doubles as a high school reunion; because you see all of these guys professionally, but it’s not often that your paths cross because you’re always doing your own thing professionally. So to finally be in a space where we can all, like, see one another and hang out and mingle — this is very cool.

How excited are you to be the new host of This Is Not Happening?

Very pumped about it. A lotta great storytellers this year, and I’m just excited to do my part to keep the show going, man, and to keep bringing some good stories to life — because it’s such a different type of medium from traditional stand-up.

What draws you to the show?

I think what makes the show so intrinsically different is that there is nothing else like it on television. There is nothing else like it anywhere on the web. It doesn’t compare to anything else that’s out there right now.

Is there ever a moment in real life that makes you stop and think, “This is going to be a good story later”?

Ya know, I don’t have those moments of connectivity where a story’s instantly in my head. “Oh, I can’t wait to put this on paper.” For me, I have to look back at important times that I learned a particular lesson, because I feel like the best stories that I have are all stories where something was learned at the end of it. Like, “OK, maybe you shouldn’t climb a fence to try to get into someone’s house,” or, “Alright, maybe you shouldn’t be a class clown.” There’s always a moment of clarity at some point in the story.

What advice would you give to anyone performing on the next season of This Is Not Happening?

I would tell them to make sure that you have some very great elements to the story. Make sure that you have some craziness. But above all, make sure you learned a lesson.
Catch the Colossal Clusterfest special for an inside look at the festival, tonight at 10/9c.