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Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • East Peoria native opens comedy club in Cornerstone building

  • In typical rock star fashion, Rodney Hood showed up to his interview a half-hour late.
    To his credit, he called to say he’d be late.

    But, Hood, 44, of East Peoria, is not a rock star; he’s a comedian.
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  • In typical rock star fashion, Rodney Hood showed up to his interview a half-hour late. To his credit, he called to say he’d be late. But, Hood, 44, of East Peoria, is not a rock star; he’s a comedian. As soon as he walked in, Hood began talking and didn’t stop for the next hour. Hood admits he’s always hyper. “I’m always in this mode. I just enjoy making people laugh,” he said. Some of his hyperness may be due to excitement, as was evident by his enthusiasm about his new comedy club in Peoria. The first show at The Padded Room Comedy Club took place March 8 and featured Scotty K. The club is located at the Underground in the historic Cornerstone Building, 321 NE Madison St. When the rock star comparison was brought up, Hood said, “I wouldn’t call it rock star because it’s not that kind of money. We RV it. We don’t have a tour bus.” For now, Hood won’t be hitting the road as he has put down his roots back home in East Peoria. Hood said he moved back to central Illinois to help his mother take care of his grandmother. “I thought I’m going to be here for a while, so why not open a club?” Hood said. Beginnings Before he took the stage in 1992, Hood worked at a dental arts lab. Someone there asked Hood what he wanted to do with his life. Hood said he wanted to be a comedian. So, he moved to Chicago where he stayed for 15 years. “That’s where I cut my teeth,” Hood said. Over the past six years, like a comedic nomad, Hood traveled and lived in 40 states. At times, he slept in his car. “Nobody wants to be a comedian. You’re kind of chosen,” Hood said. Overnight success did not just happen. Hood had to pay his dues. “I bombed for about 7,000 to 8,000 times before I got to be a paid entertainer,” he said. Now Hood is calling the shots with his Padded Room Productions Co. He has the help of Cynthia Anderson, his business partner. Together, they are booking comedians, organizing and promoting comedy shows. “I want central Illinois to have a place to go for live entertainment,” Hood said. At the Padded Room, which Hood has leased through 2014, he serves as an emcee. On the Go Catering offers food and there is a full bar with club seating for 100. In addition to headliner comedy acts, Hood said he will have a Central Illinois Funny Person Contest prior to the main show. For the main acts, Hood said he will bring in popular, top-notch comedians from Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, The Bob and Tom Show and more. “I’ve worked with some of the biggest names out there. I can bring them here,” Hood said. Shows will be rated R to PG-13. Shows are geared for those 18 and up and patrons must be 21 to drink alcohol. “I’d like to think I’m doing something a little bit different,” Hood said. “We’re comic friendly. I’m a comedian. We come at it from a comic point of view.” “I took everything I learned on the road. I’m implementing it into my club,” he said. Comedy acts are booked for the second and fourth Fridays of the month through August at The Padded Room. “We’re in promo mode 24/7. That’s all we do. We literally work seven days a week,” Hood said. In addition to acts on land, Hood plans to offer acts on the river on his boat, The Padded Room II. If planning comedy shows is not enough to keep Hood busy, he also writes comedy for younger comedians. “It’s hard for younger comics because all they know is poop and fart jokes,” he said. “I’ve been through 40 states. Imagine the stories I tell.” Forty-four years and 40 states can offer a lot of life experience, and that is where Hood said he gets his material. One of the highlights of Hood’s career was opening for Carl LaBove, the late comedian Sam Kinison’s best friend. “He told me Sam Kinison stories for three hours. It was the best day of my life,” Hood said. Kinison and Richard Pryor are two of Hood’s favorite comedians. He takes pride in the fact that they hail from central Illinois. Now Hood is making his niche in central Illinois. “The only time I feel in check and totally whole is when I’m on stage with a microphone,” he said. Alvin Williams will perform at 8 and 10 p.m. March 22. Appetizers are offered at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call 363-5770 for reservations.

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