I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have a special from a voice of reason who actually comes across as reasonable. Too often, a comic will position himself as someone who “tells it like it is” in order to present a reactionary argument as tough love. Roy Wood Jr. has always avoided this kind of condescension, even as he adopts a firm position, as he certainly does in No One Loves You.
The twist this time around is in Wood’s method of addressing a divided America. As a prominent voice on The Daily Show, Wood has clearly vetted his jokes to make them as sharp as possible. They can’t be misinterpreted—he doesn’t cloud his perspective for the sake of getting in an extra punchline, the way many comics arguably do. Wood is a comic who can play in Trump Country as much as he can play in New York, because regardless of your political affiliations, his first objective is to engage your critical thinking. Not only does it makes his arguments more robust, but it raises the entire quality of the special. He’s not in it for the applause from people who already agree with him.
Wood doesn’t mess around with formalities, starting the special off with a bit interrogating those who have a problem with protesting the national anthem. Maybe we’d be more enthusiastic about standing for the national anthem, he posits, if Bruno Mars had written it. “Remove your hats,” he says, “and put your pinkie rings to the moon at this time.”
Wood’s most potent arguments throughout the special revolve around the ways in which people of color have coped with their disenfranchisement. “If you’re black,” he says, “the safest thing you can do every day is call the police on yourself.” There is a culture within any club, he notes, that is geared to protect its own, like how “doctors don’t snitch on other doctors.” This tendency applies to the police just as much, and Wood proposes this in a way that would appeal to the logic of even the staunchest deniers of the notion that there is a problem with police accountability in America.
He applies this kind of logic to the #MeToo movement as well, a real breath of fresh air in terms of how male comics have addressed this cultural shift over the last two years. Whenever an apology uses the word “recollect,” Wood says, “some shit went down. That ain’t no regular-ass verb.”
This is the kind of political comedy that actually addresses the country’s divide, as opposed to simply mining it for material. I wish we had more of that, and I hope Wood has more of it for us.
Graham Techler is a New York-based writer and comedian. You’d be doing him a real solid by following him on Twitter @gr8h8m_t3chl3r or on Instagram @obvious_new_yorker. A real solid.