Comedian Josh Johnson spent the primary few years of his comedy profession writing monologue jokes for Jimmy Fallon at The Tonight Present, after which crafting longer bits for Trevor Noah at The Day by day Present. Now, after an prolonged pandemic-induced delay, he’s getting his personal voice on the market in a giant manner. Along with his new stand-up particular Hashtag, which is streaming now on Paramount+, Johnson additionally put out a mixtape album this year called Elusive, which mixes deeply humorous comedy and deeply emotional music.
On this week’s episode of The Last Laugh podcast, he opens up about how a concern of dying younger pushed him to increase his inventive ambitions and shares tales from his late-night writing gigs, together with what it was like to observe Fallon playfully ruffle Donald Trump’s hair and the way working with Trevor Noah has made him a greater comic.
“I had all the time needed a particular since I used to be slightly child,” Johnson, who grew up close to Shreveport, Louisiana, watching Comedy Central, tells me. “In my thoughts, that was the head.”
He was about to attain that dream in March 2020 when he began to understand that his deliberate taping would seemingly get canceled—together with just about every part else.
“You’ve acquired to recollect, on the time, in early 2020, we had been simply residing,” he says. “We had plans, all people was chilling. And so whilst some concern across the pandemic began to emerge and even because the virus began to unfold to different locations, I used to be like, ‘Oh, I’ll be high-quality.’ Then as locations began locking down, I used to be like, ‘Oh, ought to we do that?’”
After Comedy Central indefinitely postponed the particular taping, Johnson says he felt sorry for himself for a couple of days. “Then I finished serious about something besides not dying,” he explains. “I do really feel like if the world ended, I might have a lot larger issues. Like, now I acquired to learn to combat.”
Within the yr between the unique taping date and after they had been lastly in a position to shoot it, Johnson threw out just about all of his materials and began over from scratch. “It’s a unique hour,” he says. “I don’t assume that there’s any jokes from what I deliberate on doing in what I did.”
“I actually thought I’d die final yr,” he provides, sincerely. “I didn’t even get COVID, however anytime there’s even a abdomen flu going round, I’m normally the third one to drop. After I noticed the numbers, I used to be like, yo, this could be it for me. And I used to be being actually cautious. I used to be doing all these things that will’ve made Fauci smile, however I nonetheless was like, ‘Hey, you by no means know.’”
This concern is a part of what pushed Johnson to place out his first album concurrently he was finalizing his first particular. He had all the time needed to write down and produce music, so he determined to cease placing it off and make the leap, producing what ended up being a 33-track mixtape album that oscillates between quick stand-up bits and deeply honest music that exists someplace between hip-hop, gospel and soul. “There have been no excuses,” he says. “I had nothing however time.”
That line echoes a bit from his stand-up particular about how lockdown “made a liar” of all of us who claimed to have massive ambitions, however proceeded to spend the previous yr and a half watching TV. “I’ve all the time mentioned, my complete life, ‘If I solely had the time,’” he jokes.
For Johnson, it was a giant step to place himself out into the world after spending a lot time writing for different comedians in his late-night TV jobs. When he moved from Chicago to New York and rapidly landed a task on The Tonight Present employees, he says he would write one thing like 125 jokes in a day, and just one or two would make it into that night time’s monologue. The subsequent day, he’d begin from scratch and do it another time.
“After I’m writing jokes that I really feel like Jimmy [Fallon] would say, I’m not pimping him out to attempt to say one thing edgy. You clearly want to write down for an individual’s voice.”
“I perceive what it takes to ship a joke,” he says. “So once I’m writing jokes that I really feel like Jimmy [Fallon] would say, I’m not pimping him out to attempt to say one thing edgy. You clearly want to write down for an individual’s voice, however you additionally want to write down to what that individual could be snug saying.”
He had been on the present for a number of months in 2016 when Fallon gleefully messed up the hair of his visitor Donald Trump, setting off months of controversy over supposedly making an attempt to humanize the bigoted presidential candidate.
Whereas many individuals may need questioned what it was “wish to be a fly on the wall within the second that was taking place,” Johnson was there and says he had no thought it will blow up the way in which it did. “I undoubtedly didn’t really feel that manner within the room on the time, as a result of it’s very intoxicating to be round individuals who really feel a sure manner,” he explains. “So when he’s ruffling his hair and the entire viewers is dropping their minds laughing, that type of takes away the chew.”
“I used to be not a fan of Trump within the least, the entire manner by means of,” he clarifies, including that like “loads of coastal elite liberals,” he by no means thought he really had an opportunity of profitable the presidency in 2016. As for the argument that Fallon really helped Trump win by portraying him as a innocent comedy foil, Johnson says, “I imply, there’s a a lot larger concern at play if letting Fallon play along with your hair received loads of votes. That makes you query who’s voting and the way they choose.”
All of that being mentioned, Johnson did go away The Tonight Present shortly after the election, touchdown at The Day by day Present in early 2017.
“Working with Trevor Noah actually took me to a deeper place,” he says of the host who “offered” his new particular and has develop into a mentor of kinds. “And I like being in that deeper water, as a result of if somebody does come as much as me after a present, I can inform that I’ve left a deeper impression than I might have if I had not labored there.”
Thus far, Johnson has remained fully behind the scenes on the present, so I questioned if he had secret ambitions of changing into an on-screen correspondent.
“I imply, perhaps?” he replies. “Probably. I’m open to it, however I’m not essentially gunning for it. I have a look at how exhausting the correspondents work and I’m glad I’m the place I’m. That’s loads of additional.”
Hearken to the episode now and subscribe to ‘The Last Laugh’ on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcasts and be the primary to listen to new episodes when they’re launched each Tuesday.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/josh-johnson-made-jimmy-fallon-and-trevor-noah-funnier-now-its-his-turn?supply=articles&by way of=rss | Josh Johnson Made Jimmy Fallon and Trevor Noah Funnier. Now It’s His Flip.