Whole Foods Market. Oakland.
“Yeah, what’s cracking? It’s ya boy Stroy Moyd Dot Com, youknowwhatimsaying. East Oakland representing, we out here, youknowwhatimsaying. My nigga O.J. ain’t do comedy in 3 years; coincidentally, he’s had a girlfriend for the last three years, youknowwhatimsayin. But we out here getting it crackin’, man. Over here drinking coffee, drinking this chamomile. Yeah, you feel me?”
— Stroy Moyd’s first words, without prompting, seconds into recording.
It’s not surprising that East Bay native Stroy Moyd was in The Pack, a skateboarding, young, black hip hop collective that rose to national prominence in the 2006 hyphy takeover. “Before there was the Pack there was the Heavy Hitters,“ he reflects. “[Of “Vans”] I was there when Young L was making that beat, and I was like, ‘Man, that beat is hella week!’” His departure came from a disagreement, an altercation, to which Stroy was tangentially involved in, more specifically, complicit under familial ties.
“I was the first mothafucka to rock Vans. I still rock Vans to this day.”
There’s a residue of regality in the company of an unofficial mayor of Oakland, a homegrown hero, a local celebrity, a man-about-town that’s also a man-about-the-Town. A sista in line for coffee, greeted and showed love, there is a conversation about work hours. A brotha flying down Telegraph on a skateboard flagged down our car; he showed love and discussed buying a new car, converting it into office storage for his decks. Open-air salutations are the product of good, ole fashion community and synergy, and long-time residents have more opportunity to make these connections, still, it feels like Stroy Moyd knows *everybody*, and everybody knows Stroy Moyd.
At fifteen Stroy found a calling in comedy. His first set was at the Brainwash Cafe, per usual in San Francisco comedy, but his first “set” was at a funeral for a recently deceased grandmother, paying tribute with tales of elderly kleptomania and whoopin’ ass. Moyd’s family was rolling, their laughter reaching out to the streets outside. “I walked 30 people into my grandmother’s funeral.” His follow up at the Brainwash went “horrible”, per usual in San Francisco comedy, but it was already a wrap.
Since then, the comic grinded around the Bay, moved to Los Angeles, moved back, launched the #HellaFunny production brand, developed television show pitches, opened for Tracy Morgan and Hannibal Buress, the later whom, when asked how he knew Stroy, said, “’I know him from the streets.‘” A decade of leaping without looking, getting gassed up, let down, hustling, getting hustled, garnering validation, shining bright, and having fun.
Compellingly savvy and disciplined, Stroy Moyd, who, within a year of living in LA accomplished the no small feat of having concurrent shows at the Hollywood Improv and the Laugh Factory, produces some of the most wildly successful shows in town. Utilizing tech services like Sosh and FunCheapSF, selling out Cobb’s Comedy Club and Greatstar Theater, “and for $75, I can show you for one hour, how to get that shit crackin’!” Not that being a comedy magnate is without pitfalls: long hours of banal, meticulous work, coupled with pressured quality control from scrutinizing customers (once resulting in a hefty refund—two cats, actual felines, parading around the venue, and old school SF no-frills bathrooms were the culprits). “When you got rich people [the usual clientele of Sosh] coming, you can’t have a spot like that.” The biggest casualty of these good fortunes is Stroy’s artistic development, the articulate gravitas and cunning writing that got him on this list. It’s hard to work on new material on high-priced shows: rich people don’t aren’t paying for somebody “with a notebook, not giving a fuck” either.
Mechanically, his humor is very quantifiable: neo classic street jokes, slang and lingo incorporated with authentic authority, punctuated with Internet vernacular. What’s harder to communicate is Stroy’s embodiment of swag, a delivery and demeanor more akin to a rapper with Mustard on the beat (hoe), than a comic. It’s what makes each set compelling, his glibness more expressive, his incendiary comments more tolerable. Stroy Moyd is the only comedian I’ve seen, that appeals to and openly confronts uncontested liberalism, assumed consciousness in Bay Area, not under the guise of a difference of opinion or culture gap, but, rather, a knowing incite against what’s progressive conformity. For instance, he has a piece where he describe a run-in with a “hardcore feminist”, who rebuked the chivalrous advances of Stroy, “a real human being”. You could imagine this not doesn’t go over favorably. It is typically topped with a button, an epilogue referencing the previous joke, to which the comic responds, “Well, if you were at home cooking and cleaning like you’re supposed to, you wouldn’t have heard that joke.” The reaction is straight out of 1980s National Wrestling Alliance! Groans, jeers, hisses, rage. Like a professional wrestler, Stroy employes persona and agitation to rile people up, rattle pretension, to make light.
“I don’t want to nobody to take me hella seriously. I don’t even take myself hella seriously. This is all just a game. It’s all just fun.”
There’s a explicit humility in the conversation. The once proclaimed “Prince of Comedy” is very aware of his shortcomings, humble about his magnetism, a student of his craft that’s aspirational about his transcendence. His father, also named Stroy Moyd (i.e. the antonym of “destroy”), did comedy locally in his late teens, early twenties, before exchanging stage time for family time. He’s now a motivational speaker, often providing the younger Stroy “with hella game”, in addition to imploring his son to stick with it, a frustrating sentiment when you’re trying to lick your wounds after the inevitable bomb.
“How close have you been to quitting?” I ask.
“Oh, I ain’t never quitting. And it’s funny, he’s always telling me, “don’t quit”, and I’m like, “Dude, I’m not going to quit. I just had a bad set.”
Father and son’s favorite analogy is of the Chinese bamboo tree. This particular tree takes years of water and care, showing no visible growth, before it emerges. Then, in a short time, it grows exponentially. It just needed to establish it’s roots, and for its environment to nurture with patience and vigilance, which, in comedy, equates to, well, everything Stroy Moyd is committed to. It’s only a matter of time before he erupts.
words by oj patterson
illustration by ben walker