Josh Johnson swings through Kansas City Improv to raise some eyebrows in March

Josh Johnson @ 317 Stagg

Josh Jonhson. // Photo by John Cafaro

NAACP award-winning and Emmy-nominated comedian Josh Johnson is making a stop in Kansas City next month as a part of his tour in support of the recent Peacock special Josh Johnson: Up Here Killing Myself. Johnson’s KC shows will take place March 10 and 11 at Kansas City Improv and will be 21+ for entry.

Former writer and performer on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and one of Comedy Central’s most-watched comedians, the 33-year-old Louisiana native is known for his live stand-up performances where he talks topics ranging from dating expectations to daddy issues.

When talking with Johnson, we got the inside scoop on the comedian’s honest approach to comedy, tour experiences, and even dished about a past stalker.

The Pitch: How did you first enter the world of comedy?

Johnson: Enter is a strong word because I kind of just walked in completely uninvited. I started doing open mics when I was living in Chicago, started doing more bar shows, and then started writing from there. After that, I moved to New York and it all came together pretty organically.

What’s so special about this tour?

This is my first tour where I’m headlining and going completely on my own. I spent a few years on the road opening, but this is the one that’s established as my most professional, and most planned-out tour.

What has your experience been like on the road so far?

It’s been great. Seeing everyone come out has been dope and we’re adding more dates as we go throughout the year. I’ve especially been enjoying doing meet and greets after the shows.

Have you had any extra memorable experiences at your shows? 

Actually, when I was in Tacoma a few people came up to me and told me that we went to the same high school. I think they maybe only started following me online after they realized that I’m from Alexandria. I’m sure they were thinking it was cool that someone whos from there isn’t there anymore. We talked and knew some of the same people and that was insane. When you’re from a place like Alexandria, a lot of people stay in state. So when you get really far away and meet people from your concentrated part of Louisiana, it’s kinda rare.

Have you had any bad experiences on the road?

I’ve been very lucky this time around and because of my previous bad experiences, I’ve been able to sidestep anything that I can see coming. I remember once I had a show in Detroit that was definitely the worst stay that I’ve had. The hotel was spectacularly bad. There was one room that was straight up missing a door. I definitely wasn’t as terrified as I should have been.

We heard you have a stalker…

Not really anymore, that I know of. They seemed to have calmed down, but it really came out of the blue. They were making tons of fake accounts and telling me they would be where I was. Because when you’re touring, you’re telling people ahead of time where to find you. So, for a while, I was hoping people would show up except for one person.

Do you have a particular approach to comedy?

I mostly believe that so much of it is perspective that makes it interesting. I think a lot of what I do and how I think comes through conversation and talking to other people about their ideas and how they came to them. I think the narrative side is colored by other people’s thoughts about the world that have stuck with me. I think that what is different is that I’m not just telling you about how I think, I’m trying to tell you about how other people think.

Who’s inspired you?

In comedy, there are so many. Bill Burr definitely and Chris Rock. I really also just enjoy the people that I work with in New York, they inspire me a lot. People like Jordan Jensen, Eagle Witt, and watching Jeff Arcuri these last few years have been really great. I feel like your peers can really help you find your place. The people who came before you are always going to be superstars, whereas when you have contemporaries that you really respect, they help keep you feeling honest in what you do.

How would you describe what you do to someone? 

I think what I give people on stage is the eyebrow raise and then the laugh. I enjoy that because it means that whatever I’m saying they haven’t heard before. Then obviously the laugh is my job, so it’s nice to know that you’re doing your job well.

How often are you changing up your content?

I’m usually trying to change up a good portion of it every six months. Ideally, you’re going to these cities once every year or year and a half so you want to have something new, and I want that to happen naturally. So that means constantly working on it. In New York, I’m trying to change it about every three months and so I know it works on the road.

What is your favorite part about what you do?

When I do the meet and greets I get to hear from people about how the show made them feel or how I made them feel. It reminds me of why I do it and why it’s so important to me. When you laugh, you feel no pain in a sense. People have told me that whether it was through COVID-19 or a hard time that they’ve listened to an album I’ve done or watched some of my sets online and it helped them.

Categories: Culture