How does a former NFL cheerleader become a stand-up comedian? Well, there may be some praying involved. But that's no problem for Anjelah Johnson, who cheered for the Oakland Raiders, appeared as a cast member of FOX's MADtv for a hot minute, and was a "new face" at Montreal's Just For Laughs festival just last year. Perhaps you've seen her nail salon bit — 15 million views and counting on YouTube at this date. She's in the new film, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and also has parts in the upcoming movie, Our Family Wedding, and a voice role in the animated big-screen take on Marmaduke. Her first one-hour stand-up special, "That's How We Do It," debuted Monday night on Comedy Central. Let's take a quick look.
Johnson is a little lady with a big presence, or at least big attitude. She's Mexican and Native American, and an unabashed Christian. But her stand-up is not dependent upon her heritage or her religious beliefs. Instead, there's a cute bit up front about her family being creative about being poor. There's also several bits about family. Her grandmother's inability to leave good voice-mails. Her grandfather's attempts to be hip and cool. Shopping at cheap clothing stores. Using fake IDs to get into nightclubs when she was 14. Roll a clip!
She talked about cheering for the Raiders the year they went to the Super Bowl and lost to Tampa Bay. "People always ask me, how do you go from being a professional cheerleader to a stand-up comic? Now I just tell them, 'Let's keep it real. It's kinda easy transitioning into telling jokes when you cheer for the Raiders.'" And no, she didn't date any of the footballers.
But if you want to see the popularity of YouTube manifested onstage, Johnson's mere introduction of her "nail salon" bit gets a prolonged round of cheers from the Houston crowd. There's also a bit you may have seen or heard Johnson perform before online or TV, in which she describes how guys of different races and ethnicities will hit on women differently. And she also beat-boxes?! True that. Also a fun fact: Johnson's special was directed by Bobcat Goldthwait! I don't recall seeing this clip in the edited version for Comedy Central, so you can enjoy it now, in which Johnson's mom tries to give her dating tips. Roll it! (Note: It may roll as soon as you click on the extended post)
For everyone else, you can pre-order the DVD or CD for Anjelah Johnson's "That's How We Do It!" which will not be released until February 2010.