Anjelah Johnson: Actress, comedian, and YouTube sensation to perform tonight
Comedian Anjelah Johnson, best known for her “MADtv” character Bon Qui Qui, will perform August 29 at 8 p.m. in MTSU’s Murphy Center. Show up on time and ready to laugh, or Bon Qui Qui just might call security.
Although Johnson’s memorable skit is quoteworthy for everyone with access to YouTube, there is more to the California native than that.
As a child growing up in San Jose, Johnson knew she wanted to be an actress, but didn’t think she was qualified for it.
“To me, it was more like a fantasy than an achievable dream, so I kind of just ignored it,” Johnson said.
Johnson had a friend that moved to Los Angeles to be an actress. She told her, “If you come out here, I’ll help you get started and show you the ropes.”
Johnson eventually made the move, and started from the ground up as an extra. It was there she fell into standup comedy.
“I was at a church, and on Tuesday nights they would do their creative arts ministry where they would have dancing, acting and singing,” Johnson said. “There was a comedian there who was teaching a free, joke-writing standup comedy class, so I just took her class, and at the end of the class we had to perform at a real comedy club, and that was kind of my start.”
Prior to moving to LA to be an actress, Johnson was involved in a different kind of entertainment– the NFL. She was a cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders, officially known as an Oakland Raiderettes, and had the opportunity to perform at Super Bowl XXXVII.
Johnson said she gets her material for her routines from observing everyday life.
“I live life, then I apply it to my act,” Johnson said.
Johnson also takes observances for her routines from social media sites– Bon Qui Qui charms audiences with Twitter and Facebook accounts of her own.
The inspiration for the character that would change her life came from time spent in Memphis, Tenn.
“I had just graduated high school. I was in Memphis visiting a friend, and we went through a Burger King drive-thru, and this girl was just so ghetto fabulous, just the way she took my order, ‘Welcome to Burgah Kang. Go ahead wit yo ordah,’” Johnson said in exaggerated Ebonics, a trademark of Bon Qui Qui.
Johnson said Bon Qui Qui is a mix between the irritated Burger King employee and, oddly, her own “ghetto fabulous” brother, Kennie.
Another well-known character of Johnson’s is from her YouTube video “Nail Salon” where she impersonates a nail salon employee named Tammy.
Johnson also pokes fun at her personal life, her Hispanic and Native American nationality, her family members and even her husband, Christian rapper Manwell Reyes of Group 1 Crew.
The significance of his profession is comical because Johnson, at one point, had a joke in her routine about Christian rappers. She said her family burst into laughter once she admitted that she was dating her own joke. Her husband is a good sport about her sense of humor and the bit at his expense.
A noticeable aspect about Johnson’s routines is that she doesn’t curse, a rarity in the comedy world. She simply explained that she doesn’t talk like that in her daily life, and doesn’t feel the need to add it to her comedy routines.
With her experience and knowledge about the entertainment industry, has two main points of advice for those wanting to pursue a similar career– take a class, and live in a city that is a known entertainment hub.
“Do what you can in the town that you live in, but at some point if you really want to do this, then you have to make a move to where the opportunity is,” said Johnson.
Johnson said that the main perk of being in the entertainment industry is that she’s following her dream.
“My dreams are coming true. I’m watching it happen, like how amazing is that? Who gets to say that, ya know what I mean? Like how many people get to say I pursued my dream, and I’m watching it happen before my eyes.”
Johnson has been a cast member of “MADtv,” and has roles in movies such as “Our Family Wedding,” “Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” and “Marmaduke.” She also recorded a special with Comedy Central titled “That’s How We Do It.” Her television experience includes guest starring in “Ugly Betty,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and ”The Shield,” among others.
Is Johnson ready to entertain MTSU during Welcome Week festivities?
Oh, yes she is. Yes. She. Is.