Tony Woods, DCs king of comedy
October 29, 11:02 PMDC Comedy ExaminerDermaine Wardrick
To anyone who’s seen his comedy routine on Comedy Central, HBO, Showtime or BET, Tony Woods is funny. Some people would venture to say he’s one of the funniest in DC. A few would say he is funnier than any other comic to come from DC. But the one thing that cannot be argued is, Tony Woods is funny. The one thing that can be questioned is, who in the hell is Tony Woods?
For some people, Woods' is their favorite comedians’ favorite comedian, and a comedy industry legend. He often times has other comics in tears from laughing so hard but yet, he’s not on the Hollywood A-list. Even after getting a standing ovation in front of a sold out crowd at Radio City Music Hall, or any of the performances at Constitution Hall, he can still walk the streets and hardly gets recognized.
It all started at the now defunct Comedy Café, which was located on K st in Northwest. This was in the late 80s, a few years before Def Jam brought urban comedy to the forefront. Woods says, his first time on stage he froze and had forgotten all of his jokes. That was until a big guy in the front noticed that he was nervous and yelled out “he’s shaking” then Tony’s quick wit kicked in and he replied “your stomach is shaking”. That was his first laugh as a stand-up comic. Now thousands of performances and dozens of TV appearances later, he rarely takes shots at people in the audience, instead he takes them thru a range of stories. Some of the most popular stories include talking animals, fighting the handicapped and having sex while a cat was making the moment more enjoyable. “You can tell what I’m going thru, by what I talk about” he said. “In some form...to some extent, those stories really happened”. Most comics have at least one performance when they were booed by the crowd. He recalls getting booed at Mr. Henrys in Adams Morgan, while doing a joke about hitting an old lady. “I was killing until I did that joke. They gasped in astonishment” he said.
With all these kudos and praises from his peers, he said none of that tops a rare moment when someone he doesn’t know stops him and says “I love you or you’re funny”. He jokes that his family doesn’t know how funny he is, or how popular he is. Funny thing is, that he gets more work overseas than in the U.S. He regularly headlines arenas and comedy clubs in many other countries including, Holland, Australia, the UK, and Germany. He even tours Japan and Guam serving up laughs for the US troops. “For years I’ve been doing more shows overseas than I do here, he said.
This father of three credits Richard Pryor and Jonathan Winters among his old favorites and also acknowledges TK Kirkland and Jim Gaffigan among his current favorites. But with nearly two decades of comedy under his belt, he has seen his share of struggles. Some of his comedy friends who started at the same time as he did have gone on to get TV shows and movies. While he doesn’t give any insight into his thoughts as to why he hasn’t gotten a show or a movie, he does admit that it used to bother him. He now says “it just makes me funnier”. He says another low point happened while living in New York. He was known around the industry as one of the funniest guys in New York, but for some reason couldn’t get a show. He finds solace knowing that Hollywood only lets one black person thru at a time. “It’s not my turn yet,” he said. Over the years, he has had some offers of the table for various production deals, but they all fell thru. At one time he moved to L.A. and when that didn’t work out, he said that was a sign saying he needed to be in DC. This sentiment is echoed by another local favorite, Queen Aisha, who says she’s had lots of success while living in the DMV. Tony is currently working on a reality show “Where in the World Is Tony Woods”. It will be a travel show as he brings you all the local flavor as only he can. The show is being shot in various countries as he travels the world performing.
Anyone who has seen his routine, whether it was in a small club or large arena, will be sure to remember his antics. One misconception Woods wants to clear up is “I’m not high”. People often think he is high because his style is very relaxed.
Tony still frequents the local comedy spots when he's in town. This weekend he will be performing at Constitution Hall along with several other comics. He also hosts comedy nights at Takoma Station every Monday and Wednesday. You can also catch him on November 3rd at Bobby McKeys at the National Harbor as he performs as part of Laffs on the Harbor.