rod_man_smiling.jpg“Last Comic Standing” winner Rod Man, who grew up in Villa Rica, returns home Sunday in between gigs to give gifts to 12 kids from four families in need.

But the experience won’t be maudlin. He said he can find the funny in anything. “If I talk to my wife, mom and brother, they’ll laugh. I’m always saying something crazy,” he said.

Rod Man (real name Rod Thompson) has been in the stand-up comic circuit for nearly two decades, learning his craft first at the Uptown Comedy Corner when it was in Buckhead in the 1990s. Now thanks to exposure from the NBC reality show last year, he can headline shows across North America, from Edmonton to San Antonio, from Pasadena, Calif. to Lexington Ky.

“I’ve had a blessed year,” he said in a phone interview earlier this week. “My family has been blessed. I wanted to give something back now that I can. I remember Christmases when I didn’t always get what I wanted. We had some rough Christmases. My mom was a single mom.”

He’ll only be in Villa Rica for a few hours, driving up from a show in Jacksonville, but he plans to spend a week with family over Christmas for a brief break.

Since his victory, he has kept his schedule packed. “I’ve taken a lot of selfies,” he said.

Rod Man now lives in Los Angeles and while he has cut back on Southern fried foods, he said he still eats pork chops and greens and “all the good stuff. We just don’t oversauce it.” And he runs to stay in fit L.A. shape. “I train like I’m in a marathon,” he said. “I want to be here awhile.”

Our phone conversation was interrupted when he had to pay for his car wash. He still drives his pre-“Last Comic Standing” car, a 2006 Charger. “They brought my car back to life,” he said. “It’s lookin’ good!’

And he said he was wearing his Falcons cap. “I hope I can catch them when I’m in town,” he said.

Rod Man said he is scheduled to perform in Atlanta next at the Infinite Energy Center in Gwinnett County (though I wasn’t clear if he was talking about the smaller theater next door) on February 12. I don’t see tickets on sale just yet. I’ll update this when I get ticket information.

“I’m rooted and grounded,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it!’

In the meantime, he is developing a sitcom with Wanda Sykes and NBC, which was part of the winner’s package for “Last Comic Standing.” He said he’s been cleared to do a pilot and then he’ll see how it goes.

He got to meet this year’s winner, Atlantan Clayton English, at this year’s finale and later at the Montreal Just For Laughs comedy festival. “Good dude,” he said. “He’s going to be alright.”


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