Please forgive the over-usage of the word PRANK in this interview with comedian Roy Wood Jr., who's performing Wednesday through Saturday at Acme Comedy Club.
Pranks have figured prominently in the career of the former radio DJ, whose newest CD of prank calls is expected to be released in the spring. Not even the star of "Sullivan & Son" on TBS is safe now that Wood has worked himself into the show as a regular cast member. We did this interview via e-mail.
Q @roywoodjr, please explain your Twitter handle: Roy Wood Jr Ex Jedi?
A LOL. There's no real rhyme or reason. Just figured it'd be cool to make people think I used to be down with Luke Skywalker and Master Yoda.
Q Who was the victim of your first prank?
A My first prank call was back in the '80s, long before caller ID and call tracing. I called taxi cabs to my next-door neighbor's house all night in 15-minute increments. Seemed funny at the time, but in hindsight it had to have been annoying for her to deal with a cab blowing the horn all night.
Q I was recently told that radio stations mainly do staged pranks, or pranks for which they have sought permission.
A Twelve years in radio and over 500 prank calls and I never faked a single one. Some stations do fake pranks because it's legally safer, but I've never had much of a sense of responsibility. It's much more fun to do them for real.
Q Have you ever been punched by a prank victim?
A No, but I did have a guy come to one of my shows in Cleveland and basically threaten me as I came off stage.
Q Did you think the prank on the UK nurse by the Australian DJs went too far?
A I think the mistake the DJs made was not hanging up the phone. The crux of a good prank call is conflict. If a person is giving you what you requested, then there's nothing funny about that. The moment the lady agreed to give the DJs what they want, they should've hung up. In a million years no one could've predicted this lady would've killed herself. The DJs just had the bad fortune of prank-calling a woman who already had a history of mental instability.
Q Have you pulled any really great pranks on the set of "Sullivan & Son"?
A Because I was a new actor I didn't do too many pranks in the early weeks of taping, but after we taped the season finale I got together with some of the other actors and crew and we shrink-wrapped [star of the show] Steve Byrne's car. It took over 1,000 feet of cellophane. It was well worth it!
Q What is the best prank that's been pulled on you and by whom?
A Never been pranked. I'm too sharp for that. Ha! Now that I've said that, I know I'll be pranked pretty soon.
Q Is there any person about whom you will not make a joke?
A I think ANY and EVERYONE can be joked about, but for me it's all about the angle of attack. I tend to stay away from any material belittling the obese, disabled or crude sex.
Q What is going on at Florida A&M, where drum major Robert Champion died because members of THE BAND think hazing is appropriate?
A What happened at FAMU was unfortunate, and I'm glad that my alma mater has begun a process of healing and, more importantly, the implementation of a new culture that does not haze.
Q Birmingham, Alabama, your home town, and Jefferson County have a black majority on the City Council and the county commission, and that community is not doing well. Why can't black elected officials get it together?
A I think President Bush showed us during Hurricane Katrina that even white elected officials have a hard time keeping it together. And the slew of scandals involving white mayors and governors over the last few years leave me to feel like no one should ever lay the fails of any government solely on the race of the officials elected to run it.
Q You don't have any kids?
A Kids are too expensive. PlayStation and alcohol are a much cheaper expenditures than baby clothes and back-to-school supplies.
Q Your appreciation of a good child-support phone prank, despite having no kids, makes me wonder if you'd be willing to adopt Honey Boo Boo.
A The real tragedy of Honey Boo Boo is that she's going to be 25 years old one day and have to explain herself to the public.
Q The Oprah interview with Lance Armstrong left you feeling ... ?
A Uninformed and angry. The only reason he's coming clean is because there's something for him to gain out of it. We all knew Lance Armstrong was a cheat. For the record, I'm pro steroids. But I think we should have a separate Steroid Sports League. The Tour de France would be a lot more entertaining if guys were on a road rage on a steep mountain climb and they start pushing each other off the cliff.
Q Would you have the nerve to pull a prank on Prince?
A I don't think so. After pranking a popular gangster rapper I learned to NEVER prank anyone who has the power to have people "reach out and touch you." I'm willing to bet Prince has a security squad that could find me before the phone call ends.
Q What do you think about Kim Kardashian creating a baby with Kanye West while still being married to Kris Humphries?
A I have nothing negative to say about the unborn superbaby. It's probably tweeting from the womb as we speak. That baby isn't born yet and it's already more popular than all of us.
Q Would "Django Unchained" have caused as much of a stir if Spike Lee had come up with the plot instead of Quentin Tarantino?
A No. Any black director can make a movie with the n-word in it 300 times and no one says anything. There are certain artistic curators of the black experience who I think have appointed themselves guardians of the culture. I honestly think the film was fine with the n-word being in there. It would've been more awkward had Tarantino done a movie about the old south and it DIDN'T have the n-word.
Interviews are edited. C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9.
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