When Rod-Z said, “You have to come to ‘this’ show because every show is different,” he told the truth.
Opening for the legendary Patti Labelle at the Dr. Phillips Center, he cracked up some folk up, talking about how we all need God: “I found out when you get older, you get a new stomach. You can’t eat the same stuff you ate when you were younger. Your new stomach talk to you.” One night on stage, he said, his stomach started talking to him and he had to call on the name of the Lord to make it to the bathroom on time.
Then, on May 6 at the New Church of Faith’s Night of Laughter and Praise, Rod-Z gave a practical solution to some of the mayhem going on in the Orlando area: “What we need is ‘mean’ mommas –
Mommas who know where you are at all times.
Mommas who don’t let their daughters have a boyfriend at 12 and 13 years old…”
“We didn’t have no cell phones. You better be home before,” he said, pausing for audience participation in the joke. “…the street lights came on.”
And: “You ain’t never got a whooping unless after you got one, you prayed for God to kill her or you said, ‘umma’ run away!”
If you live in Central Florida and you’ve been paying attention, you know that Roderick Zeigler, better known as Rod-Z or simply Rod, Orlando native, has been hustling and not just telling jokes on stage but also working to better our community.
Rod-Z (right) with Tom Joyner
A well-known comedian, musician and actor with 20 years of experience, Rod-Z, in addition to opening for Patti, recently released his third comedy DVD called Homecoming and performed at the 6th Annual Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fellowship Luncheon at the Rosen Centre Hotel (hosted by Lucille O’Neal – Shaquille O’Neal’s mother)…and the list of events goes on and on! The DVD titles alone will make you chuckle: Stop Me If I’m Lying (2000) and I Ain’t Lied Yet (2005).
His off-stage work include: initiating a “Sign up for Something” anti-violence effort and mentoring through his fraternity Chi Tau Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Inc. He’s also an active member of the Hope Church of Orlando.
“I just want to get people off the streets,” he said during a recent interview, in reference to ‘Sign up for Something.’ “The effort will focus on creating jobs and volunteer voter registration drives – in one location. He’s currently working on another live comedy routine.
Funny and socially conscientious!
Some of his family members saw the funny in him early on in his life.
When he was young, his uncle used to call him Slappy White (as in Melvin “Slappy” White, American comedian and actor who worked with Redd Foxx back in the 50’s and 60s). The young Rod-Z spent a lot of time watching comedians perform on TV.
“I loved to laugh,” said Rod, oldest of five children (He’s the only boy) and 1989 Jones High School graduate. “I used watch Flip Wilson and used to sneak and watch Richard Pryor. I saw Eddie Murphy (long pause) on HBO! [LOL] That’s when I knew that’s what I wanted to do. “
Rod spent a many of Saturday nights watching Saturday Night Live, rehashing the skits and making up his own skits.
Later, he would go on to college – Bethune Cookman College (now University) and study Mass Communication. At BCC, he played percussion in the marching band. He’s always loved music and started playing drums in the 5th grade under the tutelage of James “Chief” Wilson.
Before he “saw the light” to become a full-time comedian/entertainer, Rod said he was working, and had just gotten a promotion on his job.
“I really had to pray,” he said. “I had just gotten into the church…I was really praying.”
His first major opportunity to do comedy came from Kirk Franklin and God’s Property.
As far as acting is concerned, he has done stage plays (The Colored Museum and A Soldiers Play), movies (Black Spring Break I and II) and countless TV shows / special events (ABC’s Buffalo Wings Citrus Bowl Parade), BET’s Comic View and ESPNU’s The Battle). And list goes on.
The world has changed since Rod got started professionally. His material is always evolving, he said. “You have to keep up with the times but be true to who you are. I grow as I go.
I am a comedian who is a Christian. I tell the same jokes at church as I do at the club.”
For the past three or four years he said he has been working on being a better son, a better uncle; a better friend and a better communicator. He’s living one day at a time.
So what drives Rod-Z? He says it’s the desire to fulfill his plans. He referenced the Bible often, saying there are stories in it that pushes him.
“I know in the Bible, God says try me and see….I thought, ‘Oh you’re guaranteeing blessings!”
The one main thing people struggle with in their faith is money, he said.
“They work hard, keep working, and keep pushing…It’s got to be God! You’ve got to have God [in your life] to be a full-time comedian.”
He is definitely a hustler, in a good way. To relieve stress or minimize stress Rod rides – on his Harley twice a week or whenever he has free time. To him, a ride on his motorcycle to the beach is a perfect day.
Check him out online on Rod-Z.com, at Become a Rod Z fan! on Facebook and follow him on Twitter/Periscope: @rodcomic
© Orlando Community News, 2016