“Black people ain’t going to Mars! And that includes you Trevor! Oh, you think because you’re on TV they’re going to take you to Mars? You’ve only had 'The Daily Show' for one commercial break. These white folks haven’t decided if they like you yet!”
Those words came from the mouth of Roy Wood Jr., on the highly anticipated debut of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah." Following a dose of world events, pop culture and a clever skit roasting the new host, the big news of the day included a NASA announcement that water sometimes flows on Mars.
And to break the news that Earthlings were now interested in visiting the red planet, Woods became the designated Mars reporter. His skit became the talk of social media the following day, making him a breakout star overnight.
So as one of the newest rightful members of "the best f#@king news team," it’s only fitting to get to know one of Comedy Central’s up and comers.
If Roy Wood Jr. looks familiar, there’s a reason for that. He’s been in the comedy game for over a decade. He’s toured with Wendy Williams’ “Sit Down Tour,” finished third on “Last Comic Standing” in 2010, and he played "Roy" of “Sullivan and Son” on TBS for three years.
While his resume is long and diverse, it started back in college.
Long before delivering the fake news, Wood was actually a journalism student at Florida A&M University. Other than writing for the sports section of the school newspaper, he spent the majority of his junior and senior year on the road doing comedy.
“It donned on me that in the two years I’d been in school, I wasn’t doing journalism internships, I was doing a comedy internship,” the 36-year-old explained.
Comedy became so much of a focus that his mother, Joyce Wood, wondered how well he was doing in school. Since she had ties to FAMU and was friends with one of Wood's journalism professors, she discreetly inquired out about his academic performance.
“[The professor] was very, very professional and never wanted to tell on Roy,” shared Ms. Wood. “So, he found a little kind way to let me know that Roy was not making it to his 8 o’clock class. And what I’d come to learn is that he was going on the road during the weekend, using the buses and he could never get back in time to make it to that 8 o’clock class or was too tired.”
Despite his dedication and persistence in the comedy realm, upon graduation he applied to journalism jobs—print and broadcast positions and neither hired him. Wood Jr. moved back home to Birmingham, Ala., to jump-start his comedy career and eventually, he landed a job in radio as an intern at a local radio station. He worked his way up to morning producer and head writer, all the while continuing to do comedy on the side.
After juggling his radio and comedy careers for eight years, while making frequent television appearances on competition and late shows, he moved to Los Angeles in 2007 to pursue comedy full time.
Although his biggest bookings in Tinseltown never really materialized, he’s forever the optimist, especially since the last few years have been a blessing in disguise.
If “Sullivan and Sons” had not been canceled in 2014, he wouldn’t have had the chance to work with Whoopi Goldberg on the ABC pilot of “Delores and Jermaine” this spring. And if “Delores and Jermaine” had been green-lit, he would not be the newest correspondent on “The Daily Show.”
As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility and no other late night show has been as influential with millennials, demands attention and impacts pop culture like “The Daily Show.” While his new role’s responsibility is one he's never experienced before, he welcomes it.
“Now I have an opportunity to give certain issues a voice and use humor in the process. I’ve always been a comedian, not 'I have a responsibility' as well, and that’s a huge feeling. I’m not a responsible person! I’ve never owned a thing since the tenth grade. I have no kids!” he joked.
To the people who’ve known him since the beginning and supported him throughout his career, his success is not a surprise. His former journalism professor, Dr. Valerie White, said she’s not shocked because he always displayed intelligence, wit, drive and most importantly, great writing abilities.
“It shows you where the ability to write can take you. It can take you to any field. You don’t have to be pigeonholed into just doing news,” said Dr. White.
“He’s worked very hard and I look at his website and how well-done it was. I think years ago, I looked at his website and thought about how well done it was. It just let me know that he pursued his dream and he works hard at it.”
And Wood agrees. His career has come full circle: from aspiring journalist to satirical news correspondent. His entire life has prepared him for this moment.
“I haven’t felt this alive since my first year doing comedy. Everything I’ve ever done, from the journalism to radio to prank calls to stand up comedy, there’s a little bit of all of those elements in what I have to do now as a correspondent,” professed Wood.
“I’m content. I could be doing the same job sleeping in my car and I’d be happy.”