Roderick McDaniel the Rib Tickler

February 19, 2023

Photo Credit

Simone Rae Photography


Valerie Lopez


Cristy Salinas


Long before the com­e­dy tours, com­pe­ti­tions and albums, Rod­er­ick McDaniel was slay­ing at fam­i­ly gath­er­ings. My dad at one point grabs his ribs and he said, You got to stop. My ribs hurt.” This was at a fam­i­ly tal­ent show one Christ­mas, and McDaniel had done a bit call­ing out his dad’s side for being black red­necks.” Although he didn’t real­ize it at the time, he’d just writ­ten and per­formed his first standup set. 

But how McDaniel end­ed up in the Austin com­e­dy scene is not so straight­for­ward. He was born in Lufkin, Texas. His father was a provost inves­ti­ga­tor for the U.S. Army, so they moved around through­out his child­hood, spend­ing time in Nacog­doches, New Orleans and Mon­roe. He joined the Navy after high school and lived in San Diego until he set­tled down in Amar­il­lo in 1995.

McDaniel grew up around fun­ny peo­ple. It’s genet­ic. Grand­ma rel­ished prank­ing the grand­kids. Mom was wit­ty and smart. He and his dad were a com­e­dy duo, tag­ging each other’s jokes any chance they got. Today he’s the father of sev­en chil­dren and admits he may have inad­ver­tent­ly raised a new gen­er­a­tion of comics. Not one of us is seri­ous? Oh, gosh, what was I doing?” he asks, ques­tion­ing his par­ent­ing skills.

My dad at one point grabs his ribs and he said, ‘You got to stop. My ribs hurt.’
Roderick McDaniel

Once in Amar­il­lo, it still would be a long time before McDaniel would take the stage. He was busy rais­ing his fam­i­ly. He also had health issues, suf­fer­ing a heart attack at 26 and then again at 33. Two heart attacks would make any­one eval­u­ate their lifestyle. For McDaniel, this wake-up call was a dif­fer­ent call to action: You’ve almost died twice. What are you gonna do? You’re gonna exer­cise and eat right? Nope. I’m gonna tell jokes.”

So after the Christ­mas tal­ent show when his broth­er urged him to try an open mic, McDaniel final­ly felt ready. One week lat­er, he’s at the Amar­il­lo Com­e­dy Club. 

Broth­ers Kel­ly, Ken­ny and Kevin Moran had come down to Amar­il­lo from the Com­e­dy Store (Los Ange­les). They ran the club like a tight ship. At his first open mic, McDaniel was ner­vous, but he killed. When he got called to the green room for a chat, he assumed the worst. Instead the broth­ers were so impressed, they asked him to return the fol­low­ing week with a new five-minute set.

From that point for­ward, the Amar­il­lo Com­e­dy Club became his com­e­dy boot­camp.” He came back week after week, hon­ing his craft. He opened for oth­er comics, includ­ing the Moran broth­ers. Then came the cor­po­rate gigs, Christ­mas shows… even moti­va­tion­al speech­es for chil­dren and teens. He start­ed tour­ing ear­ly in his career. He went on to record his first com­e­dy album in Amarillo.

In 2014 McDaniel was on the road when he got a call, You got to come home.” His father was sick and didn’t have much time left. After his dad passed away, McDaniel stayed in Austin to take care of his moth­er then decid­ed to call the city his new home.

You've almost died twice. What are you gonna do? You're gonna exercise and eat right? Nope. I'm gonna tell jokes.
Roderick McDaniel

Austin has treat­ed McDaniel well. In 2016, he was a semi­fi­nal­ist in the Fun­ni­est Per­son in Austin con­test. Thanks to a friend, he secured a dream job at Elec­tron­ic Arts. He record­ed a sec­ond com­e­dy album. Final­ly, McDaniel was able to quit his day job and pur­sue stand up com­e­dy full time. So he did. I had this whole tour booked. I called in a bunch of favors, and I said I’m just gonna get out on the road and just prove I’m ready.” That was Jan­u­ary 2020.

On March 12, the can­cel­la­tions began trick­ling in. My phone did­n’t quit ring­ing. It was call after call, and I watched my entire tour that I had built dis­ap­pear.” Despite this minor set­back (COVID-19), McDaniel was deter­mined not to give up. Months lat­er he was back on the road.

To McDaniel, the future looks bright. He’ll be back on the road again soon and is work­ing on his third com­e­dy album. He’s also in the process of estab­lish­ing a Patre­on where fans will have access to exclu­sive con­tent, like old shows. 

In the pod­cast, Rod­er­ick McDaniel’s ener­gy is bois­ter­ous, warm and — unlike his standup mate­r­i­al — maybe even a lit­tle whole­some. He’d prob­a­bly want you to believe it’s all the ther­a­py, but real­ly, that’s just who he is. He goes on to share sto­ries from the road, his hilar­i­ous fam­i­ly, and his career tra­jec­to­ry so far. 

He also says his moth­er was right to be hard on him. All I know is you’ve nev­er spent a night in jail, and you’ve nev­er spent a night in rehab. My work here is done. You’re wel­come.” He can’t argue with that, so we won’t either. 

Fol­low Roderick

Rod­er­ick can be seen and heard:

  • Per­form­ing all over the country
  • Launch­ing the pod­cast Wel­come to the Trash Heap
  • Com­e­dy Albums
    • Live in the 806 (2010)
    • Mind Ya Busi­ness (2021)
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Roderick McDaniel