Finding Your Roots Exclusive Clip: Comedian Roy Wood Jr. Has a Serious Teachable Moment About His Enslaved Ancestors

Roy Wood Jr. sits down with Louis Gates Jr. on Season 7 of Finding Your Roots.
Roy Wood Jr. sits down with Louis Gates Jr. on Season 7 of Finding Your Roots.
Screenshot: Courtesy of PBS

Roy Wood Jr. is a funny guy.

If you don’t follow him on Twitter, specifically, your timeline is sorely lacking in his particular brand of comedy. I especially enjoyed his chicken sandwich coalition series in the past year or so.

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Anyway, the comedian has had a bunch of projects, including serving as correspondent for The Daily Show since 2015. The 42-year-old actor-comedian also debuted his second comedy special, Roy Wood Jr.: No One Loves You on Comedy Central in 2019.

Though a comedian’s life is wrapped in jokes, there is always a time for serious business. After all, the genre of comedy is itself borne out of tragedy. Such is the case for Wood, who sat down with The Root co-founder Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. to chat about his ancestry in the Gates-hosted PBS series, Finding Your Roots.

Here is more information about the series, which is concluding its seventh season tonight, via a press release sent to The Root:

Finding Your Roots Season Seven offers viewers ten new episodes that started premiering in Winter and continues to air throughout Spring 2021, exploring the ancestry of notable guests including Clint Black, Lewis Black, Gretchen Carlson, Rosanne Cash, Glenn Close, Andy Cohen, Jim Gaffigan, Kasi Lemmons, John Lithgow, Jane Lynch, Audra McDonald, Christopher Meloni, Tony Shalhoub, Nina Totenberg, John Waters, Pharrell Williams and more.

In an exclusive clip shared with The Root from the upcoming episode titled, “Laughing on the Inside,” Wood learns about his enslaved ancestors and how their struggles caused him to reflect on his current family and his intentional goals to give his own son hope for a better life. The episode will also feature actor-comedian Lewis Black (The Daily Show, Inside Out).

Roy Wood Jr. Reflects on the Hopefulness He Has For His Son / Henry Louis Gates Jr. (YouTube)

“Remember when I asked you what you want to grow up to be?” Gates asks Wood in the clip. “What do you tell your child [back then] that they’re going to grow up to be? They’re going to grow up to be a slave, unless there’s a civil war, which no one could imagine in 1850. The liberation of our people was not inevitable, believe me...750,000 people died to end slavery in the United States.”

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“The biggest advantage that I have in raising my son that my ancestors didn’t have in raising their children is that I can give my son hope. ... There was no hope back then,” Wood muses.

The “Laughing on the Inside” episode of Finding Your Roots airs tonight (Tuesday) at 8 p.m. ET on PBS.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

DISCUSSION

Finding Your Roots should be mandatory for all classrooms. What an incredible program, Henry Louis Gates Jr. is a national treasure. I have an extremely low attention span after work and I don’t like much television at all, but I can’t take my eyes off this program.