Sault native Alex Wood, a professional standup comedian who has already enjoyed a considerable degree of success in his chosen field, is in the running for even greater career advancement.
Wood is currently one of 18 semi-finalists selected for the 10th annual SiriusXM Top Comic competition, a nationwide search for Canada’s best in comedy.
Wood, 32, moved to Ottawa at 16, and has lived in Toronto for the past seven years.
“I went to high school at St. Basil with Tyler Kennedy (another Saultite who went on to play as an NHL centre, a member of the Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009),” Wood recalled, speaking to SooToday in a telephone interview.
“We used to joke around a lot in school. I told people ‘I don’t care, I’m going to play in the NHL.’ They said ‘Tyler’s good at hockey, but you’re awful! But, you’re kind of funny,’ so I thought ‘I’ll be a comedian instead.’ So, it worked out for both Tyler and me,” Wood chuckled.
His comedy act, he explained, consists of “stories about my life, crazy things that have happened to me and other people, the difference between Christmas and Hanukkah, politics, a lot of autobiographical things.”
Wood has been a full time comedian since 2016 after leaving his job at a call centre, living in Toronto with his girlfriend and dog.
He has toured the entire country, from Yuk Yuk's comedy clubs to Iqaluit, as well as U.S. cities such as New York, Baltimore and Buffalo.
He is currently writing a book in between comedy gigs.
“Stand up comedy isn’t the hardest job in the world, like a lot of comedians say. I think doing brain surgery or being covered in grease at a paper mill might be harder, but it’s definitely the hardest job in show business,” Wood said.
The challenge and thrill of making people laugh in a club is worth it though, Wood said.
“It’s like a drug. When the crowd’s good and you’re feeling it, I can’t even go to sleep after, until about three in the morning.”
Wood said his second appearance at Just For Laughs (JFL) in Montreal in 2017 has been his most gratifying experience so far in the comedy field.
“I had done it before in 2009, but then I went on an eight-year bender with alcohol, and drugs.”
Now recovered, Wood said “when you get that reputation as ‘unreliable addict’ it’s hard to shake, but after being sober for two years it was good to be back at Just For Laughs.”
Wood, naturally, hopes to be chosen SiriusXM's Top Comic in the SiriusXM Top Comic competition.
The competition has a $25,000 grand prize, plus international exposure with a guaranteed spot to perform at JFL in Sydney, Australia, as well as at JFL42 in Toronto, JFL NorthWest in Vancouver, JFL in Montreal and appear in a JFL TV taping.
Though he has been featured on NBC's Today Show, Wood said “I still haven’t been on Canadian network television, so if I win this contest that would happen...it would open a lot of doors and the potential to move to America,” Wood said, adding he would be interested in acting and writing comedy for TV.
Saultites and people Canada-wide rooting for Wood to be SiriusXM's Top Comic may vote for him on the SiriusXM Top Comic competition website until Friday, Aug. 30 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.
The Finale, hosted by Canadian comic and SiriusXM host Ben Miner, will be held Sept. 26 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto as part of JFL42 presented by SiriusXM.