Comedian Roy Wood Jr. Brings Empathy, Curiosity to the Forefront With Roy's Job Fair

Illustration for article titled Comedian Roy Wood Jr. Brings Empathy, Curiosity to the Forefront With Roy's Job Fair
Screenshot: Comedy Central

Do you hate your job?

According to a poll conducted by Gallup, there’s an 85 percent chance you do. And that’s perfectly understandable, considering you haven’t gotten a raise in years, the work fridge is always out of creamer and your boss is an unrepentant asshole.

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Comedian Roy Wood Jr. empathizes with your plight; and in his efforts to get a deeper understanding of the human condition, he’s launched a podcast that explores the delicate balance so many of us seek between providing for our families and our desire for emotional fulfillment.

Roy’s Job Fair, created in partnership with Comedy Central and iHeartMedia, avoids the tired podcast trends of pop culture and celebrity interviews entirely to instead feature real people actually talking about real shit: their nine-to-fives. They discuss their most memorable jobs, employment vacancies they’re dying to fill, scams they’ve run at the office and those pesky (and equally cringeworthy) office romances that I may or may not have partaken in in a past life.

It’s hilarious, it’s insightful, but most of all, it’s something sorely lacking in the podcast space: it’s beautifully human. So to discuss his latest endeavor, Wood sat down with The Root to talk about his decision to enter the podcast space and what makes Roy’s Job Fair such a unique listening experience.

“We can argue whether or not [the podcast space is] crowded,” The Daily Show With Trevor Noah correspondent began. “But when I look at employment and just this idea of having a space for people to commiserate about the ups and downs of having a job, [there was a void]. Having the space to find out about other industries and jobs that are currently hiring right now, and giving people an idea of where they may want to pivot to. Because we’re not all happy. You either love your boss or want to slap your boss. Or you’re between jobs trying to find a new boss. Entrepreneurship is also a part of it. And if there’s a way to make this fun, let’s see.”

Creating a series about employment, during a time in which more than 25 million Americans have struggled to find a job, might come off a bit tone deaf, but this unprecedented period actually served as a catalyst for the creation of the show. He wanted to imbue his audience with hope.

“It was pretty, pretty bad,” Wood said. “So that’s kind of where the idea came from. It was like, ‘OK, let’s give people ideas on how to pivot and where to pivot. Let’s talk to people who’ve done it.’ We spoke with a Black woman who’s a coder. She’s already off working in Silicon Valley and she never took a computer science class in college. She walked us through how she taught herself, and the programs she went to, the grants. So there’s a way through all of this.”

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He also wants to break stigmas and show listeners that it’s never too late to pursue an opportunity to thrive.

“We spoke with the executive VP of Waffle House,” Wood said. “This is a brother who didn’t even get to Waffle House till he was in his 30s, and he had been in 18 years with the company. It’s definitely a unique show.”

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You can learn a lot about a person based on their profession or what industry they work in, and Wood revealed that one of his biggest takeaways from the show has been learning about the underlying similarities that so many of us share.

“I’ve learned that this desire to provide connects us across race and gender,” he said. “And when you look at a lot of economic anxiety in this country, it’s rooted in a desire to provide. And then the desire to one day know that you don’t have to work anymore [and can retire].”

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He hopes that his audience appreciates his humorous approach to such an important topic as well.

“My hope is that even people that are gainfully employed can just take a moment to just laugh at [some of these experiences] and what people go through on a day-to-day,” Wood said. “But it’s also my hope that [listeners] have an appreciation for just how many people in this country are out there contributing their eight hours and 40 weeks to make this a better place for everybody.”

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Roy’s Job Fair is available every Wednesday on your podcast platform of choice.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.

DISCUSSION

feministonfire
FeministOnFire

I’m going to find and listen to this! I hope it’s realistic and funny and runs the gamut from sneaking fries while working the drive-thru over to having to pull mean girls into conference rooms to how people have outsmarted folks to win promotions or best know-it-alls or manage office politics.

My mother tried to tell me that high school doesn’t end in high school. I wish she had been more specific.