Real, honest comedy

"Star Search"-winning comedian John Roy is headlining this season's first Comedy in the Box on Thursday. Since winning CBS's first "Star Search" in 2003, the Chicago-born and Los Angeles-based comedian has gone on to appear on "Hollywood Squares," Comedy Central's "Premium Blend" and HBO. He also reached the semifinals on NBC's "Last Comic Standing."

Catching Roy in the midst of his comic travels, The Olympian was able to ask him a few questions by e-mail.

How would you describe your style of comedy?

I try to be funny in an honest way, so the audience knows I’m really giving them my real thoughts and life experiences, not just trying to say things I think will make them laugh. My biggest influences are George Carlin and Richard Pryor, so I’ve always felt it was important to try to make the audience think about real issues while they laughed. Of course, things are always funnier when the audience has an emotional stake in what you are talking about.

Were you always the funny kid in class and in your family?

I was always funny to my family, imitating things I saw on “SNL” and such, and found during grade school that a good way for a skinny kid not to get beat up was to make them laugh until they didn’t want to hit you anymore.

How did you decide to go on “Star Search”? Did you have any idea it would become as big as it did? Was it a huge boost for your career?

I did an open call for “Star Search” in Chicago. I felt you could never pass up a chance to get on TV. I had no idea at the time that I would end up winning.

Doing your act cold in front of two talent bookers and six comedians in an empty room in a hotel gives you no sense that one day you’ll do that same act for millions on TV. It didn’t make me a star, but it definitely took me out of hotel bars in the Midwest as the act in the middle and paved the way for more TV.

A lot of your material pokes fun at prejudice. How did that become a theme for you?

I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood and attended a high school that was racially integrated – almost literally half black and half white. My formative years were surrounded by so many different kinds of people that the absurdity of intolerance was one of the first real glaring absurdities I observed, and it always stuck out as something I had to talk about.

John Roy

What: The L.A.-based comedian headlines this season’s first Comedy in the Box. The cabaret-style show is for those ages 21 and older only.

Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. S.E., Olympia

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $12.50

Information: 360-753-8586

ROY ON ...

His hair: “I live in a Jewish neighborhood, so sometimes I feel really bad walking around with this haircut. I’m like: ‘No, it’s OK. I love you guys. I’m not a skinhead. I just didn’t want to look like Dr. Phil, so I shaved it off.’ Why did the Nazis have to take the only cool haircut option I have?”

Sexual preference: “I got a roommate. He drives me crazy. He’s always calling me gay like we’re all in the sixth grade, you know, and it doesn’t even make any sense why he calls you gay. We’re at lunch. He goes, ‘Dude, you can’t finish your fries? You’re so gay.’ ... All over San Francisco, guys are going: ‘Excuse me, could you wrap these up? I couldn’t possibly finish them.’ ”

Prejudice: “There’s one thing I don’t understand. It’s hatred of any kind. I don’t get it. I was arguing with a guy just last week. He hated Jewish people, I’m like, ‘Why do you hate them?’ He gave the same excuse they always give. He goes, ‘ ’Cause Jews love money.’ Doesn’t everybody?”