Trevor Noah shocked everyone when he announced his departure from The Daily Show, including longtime correspondent Roy Wood Jr. Wood learned about it at the same time as the rest of us (except he was attending the News and Documentary Emmy Awards ceremony at the time). The speculation about who might take over has already begun, and the answer to whether Wood would is no.
“I believe that if you are asked, you must at least consider it.” You can’t turn down such an opportunity. “At the very least, you can’t turn your nose up at it,” he argues in an interview with The Daily Beast’s podcast The Last Laugh.
“I think you have to sit down and examine what you want to achieve creatively, which is something I haven’t considered yet.” What kind of car would I make? Would I attach a front wing to it? Would I turn on some Fast & Furious neon lights? “Do you want me to tint the windows?”
“And then figuring out, creatively, if that makes sense,” he continues. Because I believe that, beyond The Daily Show, there is a larger debate to be conducted about what the fuck the next version of late-night television will be. I believe this is more significant than Trevor Noah. As an industry, I believe we are undergoing a creative moulting.”
The task of any artist in the genre, according to Wood, is a balancing act between “trying to make people laugh” and “[exposing] the bullshit.” “Whatever the next shows are in the realm of political comedy, across whatever networks,” he reflects, “we’ve got to find out a way to be a bridge.”
We need to find a way to use humour as a bridge.” Building bridges with persons whose opinions are diametrically contrary to one’s own, he cautions, can be risky: “Then you attempt that, and you book Kanye, and you have to keep the episode from being released because he was wilding.”
“How much of this is true speech and legitimate conversation, and how much of this is poisonous and damaging to the stability of our democracy?” Wood questions of late-night political humour. And whatever joke you have, it’s not worth it if it undermines the stability of our democracy.”
“It’ll be interesting to watch, but having your name in the hat is an honour.” So I’m not going to sit here and act like it’s not fantastic that someone thought I could do it,” he says. “But how would I go about it?” That is something I haven’t considered. I have no idea what Comedy Central will do in terms of creativity. In the meanwhile, my job is to be a good correspondent.”
For the record, Wood believes that if the network went “completely rogue” and chose a candidate from outside the pool of correspondents, “that’s a significant bet on the Paramount side.” “It has to be a name someone knows, that we’re familiar with if I’m running the network,” he believes.
Having said that, he’s also considering what it may be like to continue working as a correspondent under a new administration. “If I’m present but not the host, what does the function of correspondent evolve into, or change into, based on the next creative iteration following the creative direction set out by the host?” He muses. “If I’m being honest with you, dude, I’m thinking about it more. “OK, what does my job shift into?” I’m thinking a lot more.