[For this year’s April Fool’s series, I wanted to highlight one great routine each from a handful of the many wonderful stand-up comedians doing their thing these days—in case, y’know, you’re (like me) looking to move on from a problematic fave. Add your faves, present and past, in comments!]
I’ve known about most of the comics I’ll highlight in this week’s series for at least a few years, but only discovered Roy Wood Jr. in the last couple months—or, more exactly, I learned about him during that time from one of my most reliable recommenders of cultural texts and voices, my Mom. I think I had previously known Wood from his longstanding role as a correspondent on The Daily Show, so I suppose it’s most accurate to say (and we know that humorists care a lot about using just the right words, rather than what Twain called the almost right ones) that I only started checking out Wood’s stand-up comedy when my Mom recommended to me his latest special, Imperfect Messenger (2021).
There’s a lot that’s pitch-perfect about Imperfect, but to my mind what makes it particularly excellent is that while a great deal of it focuses on social and cultural issues like race, politics, the age of Covid, and more, it literally never feels pedantic or preachy, a very difficult balance to pull off indeed. As the special’s title suggests, Wood recognizes that he’s not someone who’s necessarily going to feel like a wise voice of authority, that’s just not his persona—but ultimately, at least to this very entertained viewer, both that recognition itself and his natural voice and perspective make Wood feel both wise and authoritative in his pointed and hilarious observations about society, culture, and politics.
As with all of my highlights this week, I highly recommend watching the whole special if you get a chance. But if I were to single out one section from that special which epitomizes all those strengths, I would have to go with the set-piece about Leonardo DiCaprio as “an underrated white ally.” I really don’t want to say much more than that, since in this case (unlike with yesterday’s subject) you can watch the whole thing at that link. Hie thee hence!
Next stand-up fave tomorrow,
PS. What do you think? Takes on Wood and/or other faves you’d share?