Mr. Wood was part of the College’s “Conversations with Success” series. The small-group format allows students to meet and talk with high achievers from all walks of life. Mr. Wood’s appearance drew several aspiring entrepreneurs and he freely gave out contact information. Last year, he interviewed MEC students for a Daily Show segment about the undecided black youth vote.
The 38-year-old comedian from Birmingham, Ala. recalled falling in love with comedy around age 13 or 14. But he lacked the courage to “get booed,” he said, and at that age cared more about fitting in. A run-in with the law while in college -- which left him facing a possible prison sentence -- gave him the courage to get out there, he recalled. He avoided prison, got his degree in broadcasting, and began working.
“I was versatile and able to do a number of jobs concurrently,” he said. “You have to provide value to people so they want to work with you,” he said. Figure out how to do “some of the other stuff involved in what you want to do,” he told students.
He also learned to be aggressive and hyper-prepared. He drove long hours to stand-up gigs and reached out in advance to radio station DJs. He researched the line-up at radio stations in the cities where he appeared and provided material in advance. “Find cracks in whatever your hustle is,” Mr. Wood advised.
There are two types of mentors, he has found: those who have made it and those trying to make it. When making contact, “try to find a way to add value to that person first,” he suggested. Reach out with a structured plan and one good question to open up a conversation, he said.
As for his own future, Mr. Wood said don’t expect to see him on television 10 years from now. His goal is to produce TV programming. “Most new black thought is on TV,” he said. “There’s more opportunity behind the camera.”