Roy Wood Jr. is the man for this moment. The Daily Show correspondent and stand-up comedian is at his best when he’s reminding people that their feelings are bizarre, illogical, irrelevant, insane, and, for the most part, shared by millions. Stuck in his Harlem apartment struggling to find a punch line in his 3-year-old son’s bathwater, Roy Wood Jr. feels like we do — crazy. But he’s working to make sense of it all, to find the humor in the humorless and insights in the chaos. A joke can make us feel just a little bit better. That’s something.
You’re still performing. You’re still doing a job and lighting up Twitter. But you’re also under lockdown. Where are you at right now both in a physical sense and psychologically?
We’re at home in Harlem. Everything’s comfortable, man. I’m just trying to keep my sanity. You know, coronavirus has a way of making you realize, Oh, it’s important to be away from your family every now and then. As humans, we need alone time. It’s cool to be around the kid, but it’s tough balancing my work with his play because the schedules don’t line up. Still, you want to engage so he doesn’t regress intellectually. But I don’t think my kid comprehends it yet. Kids just don’t live in our spacetime. I don’t think there’s anything bad about spending all this time with your child. My job is to prepare him for the world. This is spring training. The game is outside.
You’re playing that game right now. How’s it going on the work front? Are these hard times to find a joke?
Work is tough. A lot of this boils down to the fact that I just need stillness as a comedian and writer. I need a different set of psychological circumstances to create satire. The Daily Show has the office. You don’t find solace in here, but I’ve found jokes that work in that space and place. But not in this. When it comes to writing material and stand-up, there’s no other way than a quiet, still home. Everyone has to be asleep. I cannot write. I can’t do it and I’ve tried. It’s the way I’ve always written.
I liken quarantine to a great date that’s just lasted too long. But humor breaks tension. It’s the thing that breaks the ice and gets things back on track. As terrible as these times are, it’s 100 percent important. And if you’re not a funny person, put on a funny movie. When all else fails, people talk about themselves and I think that you’ll find some common ground.