|Photo Credit||Isra Khan|
Hobbies are kind of my thing. Not so much excelling at them, but trying new ones on for fit, seeing how they work, and then kind of building a closet of regrets filled with the accoutrements. It’s more about the exploring and less about the doing.
On a recent episode of the Why Should We Care? podcast, which gives guests an opportunity to try and promote or defend a topic, hobby, pastime, or really anything they care about, comedian Drew (née Andrew) Woods stopped by to wax on why hosts Chris Tellez and AJ Henderson should care about one of his passions: skateboarding.
It’s a bit of a microcosm of understanding the Montana native Woods (by way of a round trip that included Guam, and Dallas, before eventually landing in Austin). He excels in taking something unassuming, for example, asking the audience for a scrap of information– say, your Netflix credentials –and twisting it into the unexpected on stage. Magicians shorthand this term as misdirection. Inasmuch as comedy is often about surprise, it’s in a bit of many performers’ toolkits, but for Woods it’s a core part of the experience.
Unlike some comedians, Woods’ youth wasn’t focused on performing. A fan of goofy flicks like Wayne’s World, Woods let Valerie Lopez in on the story of a particularly memorable duet of I’ve Got You Babe with his youth pastor’s wife, done in full costume. Aside from that, stage fright and the relatively tepid Montana environment left him with idle energy, and thus enters the four-wheeled deck.
Skateboarding became something he could focus and improving upon without feeling dependent on making it to the big leagues. It’s a lesson he carries with him still: you can be passionate about something, but don’t have to feel beholden to driving it to an obsession. “I try to remind myself before I go on stage; at least try to have fun”, he says, relating it to his comedy as ”If I smile or break on stage, I know I’m having a good set.”
Woods went on to try his hand at screenwriting at the Art Institute of Dallas, but found the curriculum of episodic TV and commercials wasn’t for him. Finding himself on stage for his first “real” performance, karaoke with a live band, helped re-ignite memories of the younger Andrew that got a kick out of being the “funny kid”, keeping his sisters rolling with his antics. That led to tentative open mics, and then a slow (but intensive) burn of refining a style, material, and name as he traveled back and forth between DFW and Houston.
It proved a great training ground before he set out for Austin (and not, lucky for us, his original choice of Los Angeles) last July. We’re blessed with a populated and diverse comedy scene, include a dense population of “Andrews” in it (past and present); it served as one of many reasons that Woods now goes by the abbreviated “Drew”. He tried his hand at several shows, growing confidence and a persona, and is about to celebrate his 6th year of stand-up in September, months after his first entry in Funniest Person in Austin.
Writing is still a part of Woods’ life, even though he admits “I don’t have the best work ethic”, and he’s completed a pilot script. It’s something he wants to pursue, and after a bit more time on the ground here, he’s considering the options that lie for him in the LA or NYC scenes. Austin’s still special in his heart though, saying “If you’re thinking about moving to Austin…just move here!”.
If you do, he’s still looking for a good Hulu login, so, help a guy out.