February 9, 2007

Raiderette Stand-up comic

First Person:
By Al Carlos Hernandez

If you don’t know by now, you need to ask somebody. Actress and comedian Anjelah Johnson, a small Chicana, part Native American, is blowing up Google Video with her routine on going to the nail salon.

Since early January, the clip has registered over 1.5 million hits. Tens of thousands are added everyday, no doubt, to top several million before the end of summer.

Anjelah told me that she didn’t get into comedy until after high school. She got the performing bug while taking a class and working with an improv group known as Fishes and Loaves in her native San Jose California. The class final entailed doing a short stand up routine. She killed and she was hooked.

While growing up, she noticed that she had an almost innate ability to do accents. She does seven, including British, Mexican, and Vietnamese, and it’s the last accent that is pushing her video this week towards the 2 million mark for website hits.

Her comedy, which she chooses to work clean (no profanity), comes from simple real life experiences. Her comic heroes are Ellen Degeneres and George Lopez. The family is really supportive, and she and her dad go back and forth to see who’s funnier. Sorry Dad there is a new kid in town.

She is booked on a tour in Cuba to perform for our troops at Guantanamo Bay with the assemblage called Funny Hunnies. Her high profile trajectory, by the end of the year, could land her some prime time TV and film parts as well as some high profile performing dates.

Performing in front of larger crowds isn’t such a big deal for her. During her tenure as a Radierette, she was fortunate to do the Superbowl, appear on ESPN, photo shoots in Hawaii, and working regularly in front of the Raider Nation.

She says contritely, “It is harder for a pretty woman, especially a Latina, to be taken seriously as a comic. Stand-up comedy is traditionally a male dominated profession, by men usually filled with angst. Text books on comedy say pain plus time equals humor.

“Once I am on stage, I have to prove myself right away to be taken seriously. If I don’t, then all the guys are thinking, ‘Whoa are those real?’ That may be flattering but it’s not funny. My job is to make them laugh.

“When I work, I dress moderately, no skin, no heels. I want them to focus on what is coming out of my mouth, and not just on the body delivering it.

“Speaking of my visual presence, I have recently moved to L.A. and have found it a place of tremendous opportunity and made some really good friends, but I perceive a certain distortion of beauty, which is fueled by a materialistic superficial attitude. I’m trying to be me and keep it real.

“The business tries to change you, but I’m sticking to my values and keeping my act clean. I figure, hey, If I don’t swear in real life, why should I swear on stage. That’s real life too.

“My goals are to get feature acting parts, guest starring roles on t.v., and do a major comedy tour. I am very particular who I am willing to tour with because I like to keep my act family friendly and PG. Hopefully someday I can be a motivational speaker and use my performing resume to influence youth, especially young women in a positive way.”

If you haven’t seen the Google Video, nail salon bit yet, google it, and you will know she is the real deal.

Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Hollywood.

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