By Tucker Harris EBS STAFF
Correction: A previous version of this story stated Wood Jr.’s mother passed away from COVID-19. The story has been updated to reflect Wood Jr.’s Aunt passed away.
BIG SKY – On Jan. 8, a brisk winter evening, Big Sky residents and guests flocked to the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center to warm up with laughter.
Roy Wood Jr., longtime correspondent and comedian on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” took the stage on night two of WMPAC’s Laugh Fest weekend to bring humor to everything from COVID to gun control to relationships. Night one featured the legendary Chicago improv comedy group, “The Second City.”
“We were so thrilled with how the shows went,” said Rikka Wommack, WMPAC’s communications manager. “The energy in the room was incredible, and it felt so good to laugh with our friends and community.”
Big Sky locals Michelle and Joe Borden introduced the two performers on stage before the event began. Michelle runs the community improv classes for high schoolers and adults at WMPAC.
Joe, a former head co-executive producer and writer for Comedy Central’s show “Tosh.0,” gave his own shot at some prepared jokes to set the mood, with many of those in the audience chuckling at his effort as he read them off a scrap of paper. Michelle shook her head at him and criticized his jokes, creating a humorous, self-deprecating act.
Wood performed two shows on Saturday evening, one at 5:30 p.m. for the early birds and an 8:30 p.m. late show for those looking for a rowdier time. The late show brought in almost 200 attendees.
Eddie Gossling, Los Angeles-based writer and producer for “Tosh.0,” opened for Wood’s first set and American actress and comedian Erica Rhodes who has guest starred on “Modern Family” and “New Girl” opened for the late show.
WMPAC suggested leaving the kids at home and designated Saturday night of the Laugh Fest 18-plus.
While the night wasn’t fit for children, it definitely gave the adult audience something to laugh about. Wood Jr.’s set featured comedic takes on dealing with children during the pandemic, the Catholic church and faith healers, and guns.
One of the crowd’s favorite jokes of the night was Wood’s recommendation that the COVID-19 vaccine should have been called medicine rather than a vaccine because everyone loves medicine despite knowing the dangers and side effects that come with it.
“We know medicine can kill us, ‘cause they tell us on the side of the box,” Wood said. “Now, what happens if I take a lot of Robitussin?” Then, the punch line: “Well, then it’d be your last cough.”
“That’s what we should’ve done,” he continued, “called the vaccine medicine; called the booster shot more medicine. Because if there’s one thing we love more than medicine in this country, it’s more medicine.”
The latter portion of Wood’s act took on a darker sense of humor. The comedian shared about his aunt’s death from COVID, the ensuing struggled attempt to post a recording online so his family could attend her service and stories of his fractured relationship with his father.
The audience would often laugh and then stop, collectively unsure if these topics were acceptable to find humor in. A few times Wood told the crowd that he was, in fact, still delivering jokes; it’s okay to laugh at painful and more serious topics, he said.
Wood reminded the community through his satire on that cold winter evening that even through the hardships we’ve faced, sometimes laughter is the best medicine.