The news cycle churns so quickly that no comedian can realistically keep up. Take Roy Wood Jr., for instance. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah correspondent recently shot his Comedy Central special Roy Wood Jr.: Imperfect Messenger, which premieres tonight at 10:30/9:30c, to make it as timely as he could.
But there were still things that slipped through the cracks. For instance, Wood says he would’ve loved to have included this week’s controversy involving members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and HBO’s rom-com Insecure.
A number of angered AKA members took to social media to lament the fact that actress Amanda Seales, who plays Tiffany on the series, isn’t an AKA sorority sister in real life, even though her character is. Seales responded by saying she’s just an actress playing a role. The rancor mushroomed because Seales’ character wore AKA colors and symbols during the Season 5 premiere, prompting threats of a lawsuit.
“I’m not a member of the Pan-Hellenic Divine Nine, blah blah blah,” Wood, a Black Twitter superstar, jokingly tells TVLine. “But I do know from an organizational standpoint, there is no logo on a television show that is not cleared before airing. Period. I have to put my thumb over the Apple logo on my phone if it hasn’t cleared. If Amanda Seales is on TV wearing an AKA shield, I assure you it had to pass through multiple channels. It’s not something they just decided to do.”
The overarching theme of Wood’s Imperfect Messenger is mankind’s inherent need to feel good. And the brouhaha surrounding one episode of Insecure offending a segment of the population, despite the fact that Tiffany has been a demonstrative AKA soror for five years on the comedy, definitely falls under the pleasure-seeking banner, he adds.
“Black Twitter is another world,” says Wood, who this past Wednesday moderated an event for Insecure’s Yvonne Orji and her book Bamboozled By Jesus: How God Tricked Me Into the Life of My Dreams. “Any time folks can take time out to argue about something like that about Insecure tells me that at least for a moment, we’re OK as a people.”
It certainly beats sadder alternatives, he adds.
“At least we’re not yelling about a new dead Black person the police killed,” Wood exclaims. “If collectively as a culture, we can just argue about Insecure or the Real Housewives or whatever the hell, it’s a good day. It’s not something that’s going to split us up as a race. This is not Dave Chappelle versus the trans community, and it’s not Kyrie Irving versus vaccination. If you don’t like that Amanda Seales wore a pink-and-green top on that one show, that’s progress as far as I’m concerned. What a waste of Black energy.”
Just as he has for past specials, Wood tries to make his material timely and relatable. This is why he has jokes about everything from police reform to the Fast and the Furious franchise. But he wasn’t able to include anything about his time on PBS’ Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates. The episode, in which Wood learned he’s related to the late great Civil Rights activist Congressman John Lewis, aired months ago and feels dated.
“I always ask myself: What are the things that are going to connect to people the most right now?” Wood reflects. “That’s the difficult part about a stand-up special: making sure that your material remains timely. We shot this special in Denver two weeks ago, and I had to make sure the punchlines didn’t age too quickly.”
What do you think of the AKA/Insecure controversy, and will you be watching Roy Wood Jr.’s special? Drop your thoughts in the comments.