The MadTV alum, who shot to stardom on the middle of the 2000s when her bit about a stereotypical nail salon employee went viral on YouTube, fell into stand-up comedy while trying to make it as an actress in Los Angeles. Now, she has three comedy albums, millions of fans and a hip-hop album that features one of her most famous characters, the ghetto-fabulous fast food worker Bon Qui Qui.
Now Johnson, who will be stopping by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino on April 9, is gearing up for an entire tour as Bon Qui Qui. Racket had a chat with her to talk about the San Manuel show, her Bon Qui Qui album and tour, and how she got into comedy.
Racket: So Anjelah, tell us a little bit about what we could expect at the San Manuel show.
Anjelah Johnson: So I’ll be doing my standup comedy and I’ll be performing a lot of material from my new hour special that wil be released this year on Netflix. I filmed it at the end of last year and it’ll be released this year on Netflix as a Netflix original and so I’ll be bringing a lot of that material. I talk a lot about my family and marriage, my husband supplies me with plenty of material so I definitely write jokes about him and I love to connect with my audience. I love to see the audience connect with the things I’m saying. And it feels like we’re sharing something in that moment, you know what I mean? So I definitely like to tell relatable stories.
And you’ll also be touring as your popular character, Bon Qui Qui, this summer.
Yes, so it’s different from the typical Anjelah Johnson stand-up show because Bon Qui Qui is touring with her new album Gold Plated Dreams, which is now available on iTunes. We released the album earlier this year. And so she’ll be touring with those songs and a band and backup dancers and stuff like that. And I will start the show as Anjelah and I’ll spend ten minutes of jokes, like the classic jokes that everybody likes, and then I’ll have a guest bring in and perform while I go check on Bon Qui Qui and make sure she’s ready for her show and Bon Qui Qui will finish the show doing her songs.
And I also heard you’re starting a 30-day transformation to get in shape for the Bon Qui Qui tour.
Oh my god, I was just saying how hungry I am already.
Tell me a little about that.
So I’m starting this 30 day transformation. Basically I’m getting healthy – okay so I’ve been getting sick the past month, sinus infection after sinus infection, the flu and the cold and it’s just been nuts. So I need to get my body healthy and I just need to get in shape because I’m going to be dancing and singing and all that kind of stuff and night after night it’s going to be tough especially since I’m a music artist where I’m going to be doing choreography or stuff like that. So I am on a mission to not only get healthy but to get fit and in shape. So I’m doing this 30 day transformation with these trainers, Luther and Kathy. Luther Freeman and Kathy Drayton, and they are actually in Florida but they are amazing. And their proof is in the pudding for sure, and so I started with them.
You recently dropped an album as Bon Qui Qui earlier this year. What was the process like of recording that album?
Well I created this with my husband, and it was actually his idea to make Bon Qui Qui a rapper. He was like “Why don’t we go in the studio and record it,” because he’s a musician, that’s what he does. So he was like “let’s go write some songs and record them,” So we did and we did a couple of music videos and we just put it out there to see what happens. And then Warner Bros Records ended up hearing Bon Qui Qui’s music and offered her a record deal, and so now we have her album called Gold Plated Dreams.
And how has the response to be album been so far?
Really good! So far, people who have heard it love it, you know what I mean? I think it’s just a matter of getting the word out there that she has an album, but the people who have heard it love it. She’s got great reviews on iTunes.
You originally moved to Los Angeles in the mid-2000s to try to get in the comedy scene. What was that like?
Well I actually moved to LA to be an actress in 2003. [Editor’s note: TOTALLY WHAT WE MEANT] That was my big dream, I’m going to be an actress, and so I moved out here and became an extra on “Friends,” which was my favorite show ever. That was still one of my favorite jobs till this day. And I took a joke writing and stand-up comedy class while I was here trying to be an actor and was kind of like, when you’re a struggling actor, you just do whatever you can to get in the business, you know what I mean? And so I took this joke writing stand-up comedy class, and the first joke that I wrote was this nail salon bit that just blew up on the internet and it kind of propelled me into where I am today. And now here I am, three album specials later and it’s been amazing. I didn’t know I was going to be a comic but it’s been a crazy journey.
Yeah I think it’s safe to say your nail salon bit was one of the first stand-up comedy bits to blow up on YouTube.
Yeah, YouTube was brand new and so it’s like perfect timing of a funny joke that was made on this brand new thing called YouTube where if you got an email from someone with a video in it, you definitely watched it.
What can we expect from you and Bon Qui Qui in 2015 and beyond?
Hopefully a lot more. I’m filming a movie this summer, called Resurrection of Gavin Stone, and I’m pretty excited about that, and just going on tour as Bon Qui Qui. I’m excited about it and I’m curious to see how it goes. We’re kind of trying it, taking a chance, you know? People love this character and the music, and so we’re like, “Well, we’ll take it on the road, see what happens with it.” And hopefully that just opens up more doors.
Thank you so much for talking with us, Anjelah!
Thanks! Chat soon, bye!
Interview by Matthew Bramlett