Growing up in Atlanta, the comic known as Rod Man was part of a family full of funny folks. He honed his ability to be humorous by using wisecracks and antics to defuse his mom’s frustration whenever he caused a ruckus.
Those skills paid off as an adult when he became the eighth-season champion of the NBC standup-competition series “Last Comic Standing” in 2012. He’s parlayed that title and his incredibly laid-back Southern drawl to become a headlining star in comedy clubs nationwide, including the Ice House in Pasadena, where he will be performing at 8 p.m. Friday.
“I can come off strong on stage, but that’s OK — strong is good, like strong coffee, strong drinks, no sugar in the grits,” says Rod Man, whose real name is Rod Thompson.
“I used to play a club called the 559 in Atlanta and any club with numbers in the name, that’s a dangerous situation. You just want to get through. It was gangsters and ballers. If you were good, standing ovation, but if you were off, it was a bad situation. They had clubs where they would shoot you offstage with machine gun sound effects instead of lights.”
His life onstage and off has changed dramatically since winning “Comic,” as Rod Man has also graced the stage at Caesar’s Palace, The Gibson Amphitheater, and The Apollo Theater, and is currently the host of his own YouTube shows — “Time Out with Rod Man” and “That Good Funny.” Besides his stint on “Comic,” he has made many numerous other television appearances, including “The Bad Boys of Comedy” for HBO, Martin Lawrence’s “First Amendment” for Starz, Nick Cannon’s “Wild ‘N Out” for MTV and “The World Stands Up” for BBC America.
“When I got ‘Last Comic Standing,’ I said this is just so much better!” he continues. “It was like comedy college because we had so many types of funny competitions, and then when we performed I had to figure out how to make my hour-plus set work in four-minute pieces and learn what words were acceptable. Comedy makes you have tough skin. To get a roomful of people who don’t know you to laugh, you really got to know what you’re doing.”
Rod Man performs at 8 p.m. Friday at the Ice House, 24 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena. Tickets are $20 to $27. Call (626) 577-1894 or visit icehousecomedy.com.