Comedian John Roy has been all over TV and the country. He's won Star Search 2003, was featured in season 4 of Last Comic Standing, has been on Comics Unleashed and Premium Blend, and now he's coming to the Comic Strip on March 20th and 21st.
What's it like to grow up with a psychotherapist and former Jesuit as parents?
It's kind of strange because when you're a kid, you don't know that there are any other kinds of parents out there. I definitely, because I was an only child, picked up a weird academic way of talking that wasn't all that common among seven year olds. I didn't talk like a normal kid till I had endured enough abuse on the parking lot/baseball field to realize that it wasn't cool to use the word "rationalize" when you're seven.
Did you pick up any tricks from your parents for maintaining good mental health?
It is very hard to be unhappy when you're eating a well-made Rice Krispie treat. Aside from that I got nothing.
What sort of role did religion play in your life growing up?
A huge role, really. Almost every adult I met either worked for the Church or Loyola University. But what many people don't know is that the academic side of the Catholic Church is very liberal. The whole idea of a "Christian Right" baffled me as I was raised to think of Jesus as a cross between a Communist and John Lennon. Conservatives were somewhere between Pontius Pilate and the devil in my early understanding. It was a long time before I could understand that there were people who could say they were both Christians and Republicans and see no irony in that.
What are your earliest memories of comedy, of seeing or hearing things that made you laugh?
My parents would let me watch the old SNL's and, at 3 and 4, you don't really get jokes, but even with no understanding of the context, I remember John Belushi in a samurai outfit making me laugh. If you can make someone with the barest grasp of reality laugh, you're definitely one of the greats.
Are you able to pinpoint the first time that you were consciously aware that you were able to make people laugh?
Yes. I remember being sort of a misfit kid at summer camp until I busted out my impressions of Dana Carvey's characters from SNL and all of the sudden being popular. When one of the campers wouldn't let me go to bed, DEMANDING that I do the Church Lady for the four millionth time, I could see the hard wired need for comedy that people have in their brains
What was the life saving heart surgery that you had?
It was called the Transposition of the Great Vessels. Basically the left side of my heart was made to do what the right side of a normal heart was. I am in the first group of people to have had the surgery, so whenever I get a checkup, I am a big attraction to the medical staff.
Having grown up in a culturally diverse neighborhood in Chicago do find that people are more the same than they are different or that there are many differences that we must accept and celebrate?
A little bit of both. My Nigerian best friend's mother would yell at him just like my mother would yell at me, only when she did it, he was eating plantains instead of peas. I think basic human relationships are the same, but there are definitely different sets of attitudes that cultures will bring to the table.
After you won Star Search, the comedy portion was canceled. What'd you do?
I realized that they simply could not follow the excellence exhibited in season one and decided they'd not even try. Seriously, I had little reaction. I believe though, that, it's much harder to find 3 new standups every week then any other kind of talent, as there are so few of us and it takes so much work to do it well, that they had run out of good people to put on the air at that point.
How did your Star Search experience compare to your Last Comic Standing experience?
Star Search was a straight contest, so there wasn't the intrusive element of the TV cameras monitoring your every thought. I did pick up a trick on LCS though, to stop them from filming me. They could always bleep out swear words, but there was nothing they could do if you started praising shows on other networks. I knew there was no chance NBC was going to air a ten minute monologue about how great "24" , "Lost", "The Shield", and ""Arrested Development" were, so I would launch into it when ever I wanted them to go away.
What'd your roommates think of seeing you on TV?
They liked it. My roommate James Tivoed an embarrassing moment of me on "Hollywood Squares" kissing Howie Mandel's ass that he would play every time he thought I was getting to full of myself.
What are some money saving trips that you've picked up over the years?
Most of my tips only relate to people that are going to be traveling a lot the way comics do. I will say that you should never have to pay more than 25 dollars a day for a rental car. Hit the web sites, there will be a deal there, as long as you're not above being the captain of a Ford Focus for the week.
They say that some of the best things in life are free. In your experience, what are some examples of that?
Taco Bell mild sauce. It's far better than the menu items you actually have to pay for, and it's just sitting there in those bins!