Behind the Scenes of SXSW: Roy Wood Jr. Talks ‘The Daily Show' & Growth as a Comedian

By Gabrielle Pharms | March 15, 2022

In the past several years, we’ve all witnessed the twists and turns of the political climate coupled with a pandemic. The silver lining is comedy has kept many of us coping through this tumultuous new decade. One of the key shows highlighting current events with a humorous slant is The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. One of the show's entertaining correspondents is comedian, actor, and producer Roy Wood Jr. In addition to being one of The Daily Show’s correspondents, Wood is a collaborator on two podcasts, Beyond the Scenes and Roy’s Job Fair.

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EDITION sat down with Wood ahead of his live podcast recording of Beyond the Scenes at SXSW to discuss his growth as a comedian and what he appreciates working with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show.

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So, what on earth are you doing at SXSW?

I am hosting a live taping of The Daily Show podcast, Beyond the Scenes, where we speak with newsmakers and people that are closer to issues that we've already talked about on The Daily Show. So, we're going to talk to Vladimir Duthiers, Symone D. Sanders, and Yamiche Alcindor about what it means to be a Black journalist and the stresses they deal with outside the newsroom, and the stresses they deal with in the newsroom with their colleagues that are of a different race and do not understand all the struggles and the sh-t that they're going through. I believe that it's an opportunity to have a conversation with what I hope – what I've known South By to be – is an audience that is curious about new ideas and new concepts and figuring out ways that they could be better. I hate to use the word ally, but a better ally, to at least put people on notice on what the hell is going on and what people are going through. So, that's why I'm here.

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So, in what way, if at all, will this correlate with your CP Time segment on the show?

That doesn't tie into it. Although we do need to do a CP Time episode of Beyond the Scenes, where we talk about the ideation of that segment. I think the difference between the two is that Beyond the Scenes is tied to things that are happening in the world and expanding those conversations with old guests or new guests that are close to the topic. CP Time strictly gives you new knowledge that you didn't know anything about. The cool thing about the show is that we follow a lot of conversations that have already happened in the news. CP Time is strictly more information on a matter than what's going on in the world, like ‘Let me tell you quickly about all these Black people in horror and what they did to help establish this entire niche of Black horror.’ That type of stuff is cool to be able to be a part of.

What do you love about being on The Daily Show?

What I would say I love about being on The Daily Show is being able to discuss issues that are serious and putting everything into it; because there's a lot of stuff we talk about that a lot of people will flip past that channel if it was hard news. So, I feel like I was blessed with a gift, then Trevor and Comedy Central essentially blessed me with an opportunity to really showcase that gift in a way that I feel shines a light on a lot of serious issues that are mainly to do with the job.

And with you being a comedian, but also an advocate or an activist, how can you balance the two without it being something that's just straight-up humor, but educational as well?

You have to make sure that you ask yourself first what you're trying to say. I've been called an activist in the past. I stopped short of wearing that hat. I feel when I look at a lot of the people that I consider activists and the work that they do on the ground, a lot of it is unheralded, and a lot of it happens without cameras. Everywhere I go with a camera with me, I have a duty and a role to play in the betterment of society and the betterment of Black people. I feel like I have leveraged the camera to a degree as a weapon. Ultimately, it's about making sure that you know what it is you're trying to say about the issue. As long as you know that you're always going to be honest, and you're always going to be true.

How long have you been on the show?

I've been with Trevor Noah since September 2015.

Time flies! What do you feel like you've learned about yourself in the process?

I'd say my time on The Daily Show, the biggest thing that I'm starting to finally realize is the importance of self-care and maintaining some degree of relaxation and sanity because to make jokes about the absurd and the horrible, you have to read all the horrible and absurd news. It takes a toll to know that there are so many things, so many potholes in this world, and it can be disheartening at times. It's important for me to try and do things that keep my spirits high.

What are some ways you indulge in self-care?

For me, some of the ways I indulge in self-care, I try my best to relax. I try my best to watch nonsensical TV shows from time to time, puzzles, and Sudoku. Also, shout out to Wordle!

I’m terrible at Wordle. So, what are some of your plans going into the balance of 2022?

For me, The Daily Show it's all about midterms. We're looking at which states are going to be key battleground states when it comes time to decide the fate of the house in the Senate. So, I think that as a news team, we’re probably going to turn our attention to those spaces and really look at trying to do stories and hopefully bring light to what's going on.

Photography by: Anna Webber/Getty Images for Twitter;
Michael Bezjian/WireImage for The Artists Project; Rick Kern/Getty Images for Amazon Prime Video