Standup survival in Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – Here’s the question: Can a reality show succeed if it doesn’t feature Kim Kardashian’s … features?Comedian Roy Wood Jr. is real, and he wasn’t rising to the bait about which parts of reality show women were real, and which are not.Wood is part of the Last Comic Standing tour stopping Sunday night in Beaver Creek. Five of the nation’s hottest young comics will answer that and other weighty questions of modern life, such as, “How’s the weather?””I’m from Birmingham, Ala., and I’m staying home if there’s a chance that the milkshake machine will overflow,” Wood said.It’s season seven for NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” the only reality show founded on mirth and not miracle bras.Felipe Esparza was this year’s winner and he’ll be here Sunday. He’s really bright and has no silicone injected into his body, at least not where we can see it.”It’s been good for comedy in helping keep it in the forefront as an artform and entertainment option,” Wood said.But reality TV isn’t real and Wood isn’t a fan.”I say we get a time machine and find the guy who first did ‘COPS,’ John Langley. He invented the reality show,” Wood said. “That day he was supposed to go to Fox and pitch that show, we could send him two strippers and maybe he’d get distracted and forget to do it.”However, this is America, where we take sides about just about everything – including reality shows.”If we can’t argue about it, we’re not gonna watch,” Wood said.Stand up for standup”Last Comic Standing” is structured like American Idol. There’s an open call and zillions of people show up. All of them think they’re funny; many actually are. Besides the cattle calls, talent scouts in Los Angeles and New York watched lots and lots of comics.Then the American viewing public starts voting them off the island, casting ballots at rates much higher than we would for presidential politics – mostly because this is much more fun.Comics who make it through that first round are invited back for an evening showcase. If they survive that, it’s on to the semi-finals in Hollywood.Make enough people laugh there and you get on the bus for the 60-city tour that stops Sunday in Beaver Creek. They’re somewhere city number 40, or 45, or something like that.For winning, Esparza got $250,000 plus a deal with NBC.Five perspectivesFive comics, one bus and lots of time to kill between shows. “It’s been great. We’ll argue about what station on satellite radio and what NFL game to watch, but that’s about it,” Wood said. The five comics stopping by Sunday are this year’s finalists: Felipe Esparza, Tommy Johnagin, Roy Wood Jr., Myq Kaplan and Mike DeStefano. “All five of us bring totally styles of comedy to the stage,” Wood said.For example, Entertainment Weekly described Wood’s comedy as “charismatic crankiness.” Kaplan is Jewish, raised in New Jersey and living in Brooklyn. Esparza is from Los Angeles.It’s the stuff of life and how you can laugh at it.Road showThe road gets long and comics walk away every day. It takes a long time for a comic to build an audience, and some never do.”I’m 32 years old and I’m 12 years into this,” Wood said.He started when he was 19 years and attending Florida A&M University.”I’m lucky. I started this when I didn’t need any money,” Wood said. “A couple shifts at the Golden Corral during the week and I was free on the weekends.”Most comics have regular jobs and do standup when they can. Wood said he knows how fortunate he is.”To be a working comic in this country is rare. To be on a television show that helps you like this does, that’s almost a miracle,” Wood said.When the tour is over, then what?”When it’s over you go back to doing what you were doing, touring comedy clubs and everything else you can,” Wood said.Wood is an online video blog correspondent for “The Soup” on E! Network. He is also a freelance writer for a variety of morning radio shows, and his prank calls can now be heard on more than 40 national radio shows, including Jamie Foxx’s Foxxhole Radio on Sirius|XM Satellite Radio.He has recorded three nationally released prank call CD’s: “My Momma Made Me Wear This” (2003), “Confessions of a High School Bench Warmer” (2005) and “I’ll Slap You to Sleep!” (2009).