The Blackest Questions

Meet Josh Johnson: The Comedian Combining Laughs & Therapy

Episode 39

Still in his early 30’s comedian Josh Johnson has worked with some of the biggest names in comedy. While testing his Black history knowledge with Dr. Christina Greer, Josh talks about his time touring with Trevor Noah, his work on The Daily Show, and how he came up with the unique concept of using his therapy sessions as material for his Peacock special, “Up Here Killing Myself.”

THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON — Comedian Josh Johnson chats with host Jimmy Fallon on February 22, 2017 — (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images )


Panama Jackson [00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio Black Podcast Network. Black Culture Amplified. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:00:06] Hi and welcome to the Blackest Questions. I’m your host, Doctor Christina Greer, politics editor for theGrio and associate professor of political science at Fordham University. In this podcast, we ask our guests five of the Blackest questions that we can learn a little bit more about them and have some fun while we’re doing it. We’re also going to learn a lot about Black history, past and present. So here’s how this works. We have five rounds of questions about us Black history, the entire diaspora, current events, you name it and with each round, the questions get a little tougher and the guest has 10 seconds to get it right. If they answer the question correctly, they’ll receive one symbolic breakfast and they’ll hear this and if they get it wrong, they’ll hear that. But we still have them anyway. Our guest for this episode is comedian Josh Johnson. He does stand-up. He’s a podcaster. He’s written for some of the biggest shows out there, including The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. 

Josh Johnson [00:00:57] Does it trip you out that everyone in a rom-com has enough money to make it work? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:01:01] He’s an Emmy nominee, an NAACP award winner, and is one of Comedy Central’s most-watched comedians ever with 40 million views.

Josh Johnson [00:01:09] I’ve never had to prove I was Black before so I got mad. But then the madder I got the whiter I sounded. To the point where I was just standing in front of them like, by golly, I’m Black gosh darn it. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:01:21] Josh, thank you so much for joining us at The Blackest Questions. Are you ready to play? 

Josh Johnson [00:01:26] Yup, yeah. I’m very excited. Thank you for having me here. I will say just up top as a little disclaimer, I barely know myself. So if I get everything wrong, I just don’t want to be judged, you know, preemptively. I want to, like, ever manage expectations. You know. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:01:42] Listen, we’ve had guests that have had zero out of five. We’ve had guests, I think we may have had one or two, four and five and fives. But listen, everyone has a blast. Our listeners learn a ton. We’re all on this journey together. So let’s get started with question number one. How about it? Okay. This comedian was the first comic from South Africa to appear on late night TV in the States. Who is he? 

Josh Johnson [00:02:05] Yeah, I feel like the most obvious one could be the wrong one, but I’ll say Trevor Noah. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:02:12] You are correct. 

Josh Johnson [00:02:13] Okay, There we go. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:02:15] Trevor Noah was born in South Africa during apartheid, and because interracial relationships were illegal, his parents often had to hide him from the police. So Trevor grew up in a city just outside of Johannesburg that was set aside for Black people. 

Trevor Noah [00:02:27] What’s amazing about this place is that nothing’s changed in a good way. It’s like a museum. That’s what it is. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:02:32] And after being dared by his friends to perform during a comedy open mic night when he was 22 years old, he quickly realized he had talent. So for several years he performed in nightclubs, hosted television shows, and even competed in a reality dance show before moving to America in 2012. So Trevor Noah eventually began appearing on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and later took over the show as host in 2015 and earlier this year he announced he was stepping down. So, Josh, we know that you know Trevor Noah well and you’ve even toured with him as his opening act. Tell us what that was like. 

Josh Johnson [00:03:05] I mean, it was a great time. It was it was my first time every time performing in front of that many people, that was that was truly wild. But it was it was a really incredible experience tour together for like four years. So it was a amazing and got to sort of lap America a couple of times and and do some of the same venues again. So it was cool to go back and everything and it just taught me a lot about about audience, about stand-up, about stage presence. A lot of it really came through and there was a lot of growth in that in that period where we were working together. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:03:45] Well, as a political scientist, I’m obsessed with comedians because you all see so much of the world in so much of the United States, you know, not just major cities. When you all are touring, you sometimes go to tier two, tier three cities, and you really get like a pulse of what people think about how they think about really important issues. What’s one of the favorite one of your favorite locations to do stand-up. 

Josh Johnson [00:04:11] Unbiased. But I think for me it’s Chicago because Chicago’s where I started and everything and I think that in the Midwest you just get a lot of comedy fans that are very like clearly keen on going to a show and they don’t need the person to be famous. They just need them to be funny and I think that is not that rare. You know, they’re in most places you go where people just wanna see a comedy show and have fun, or they’ve never been to a comedy show before in one try it out. But I think that there is this thing of like, I want to see the most famous comedian or I want to see this specific person or something. I think people going to a show for the sake of being at a show is the purest, the purest form of performance, because then you’re you’re just giving people what you have and they’re taking it all in. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:05:00] Okay and tell us a little bit more about your time as a writer on The Daily Show, because that takes you away from sort of touring and being in front of, you know, an audience, but in front of a different type of audience as a writer. 

Josh Johnson [00:05:14] I think that for the most part, it just added to the overall experience of performing and everything because at Daily Show. I’ve learned a lot about telling story, keeping people engaged in everything and and it’s really helped my stand-up overall and I’ve been blessed enough that, you know, I work at the show and then I can go out at night and still do spots, still do comedy and everything and then on the weekends I can travel and everything. So it’s it’s really been the biggest boost not just to my career, but I think to the overall process that I approach comedy with. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:05:51] And is your process more singular or do you like the collaborative effort of writing with the team? 

Josh Johnson [00:05:57] I like collaborating with people. To me, is the. I don’t know how to describe this really, but it gets to the heart of what the best joke is, the quickest to me, because you can sit there by yourself and like, really think about something and try to crack whatever your your thought is, try to distill it down to make it accessible to everyone. Or you could just talk it out, I think talk it out is this really beautiful way of all of us getting there together and I think you see the results of that. Whereas with stand-up, because stand-up is so uniquely and specifically your perspective on the world, it makes more sense for that to be a loner game, you know? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:06:42] Mm hmm. Mm hmm. So this is a great segway, because before we take a quick commercial break, tell us a little bit more about your comedy special that’s now streaming on Peacock titled Up Here Killing Myself. 

Josh Johnson [00:06:51] Poor in Louisiana somehow feels extra poor. There’s something about being poor next to a swamp that makes you go, Oh, I might not make it out of this. Okay. Yeah. So I did this special. We released it February of this year, and it’s basically a special that I took an hour of my talk therapy with a therapist and wrote jokes around all this subject matter and then put it out as a special and so in the actual special will juxtapose from like a scene in therapy to being on stage and I think it marries the two ideas together really well that I’ve use both to process and heal and everything and and give back things that things that in the past really bothered me and now I’ve, I’ve done the work to make them funny or, or hopefully make them relatable to as many people as possible. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:07:49] Right. Because I feel like in this moment, I mean, this is why comedians are so important to society and I say this all the time on the podcast because you all help us remember while also simultaneously helping us forget. You know, you all bring up issues that so many of us are grappling with, especially, you know, been on lockdown and COVID. But then also for, you know, whether it’s 30 minutes or 60 minutes, you help us forget about all of our problems, simultaneously, while also talking about our problems. 

Josh Johnson [00:08:14] Yeah, no, that’s fair. I think. I think you’ve. You’ve made a better case for comedy than I think most comedians usually do. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:08:24] Okay. We’re going to take a quick break I’m with Josh, Jonathan, we’re talking about his new peacock special entitled Up Here Killing Myself. We’ll be right back and you’re listening to the Black box question. Okay, we are back. I’m with comedian Josh Johnson. We’re just talking about his new special on Peacock Up Here, Killing Myself. Josh, are you ready for question number two of The Blackest Questions? 

Josh Johnson [00:08:46] I think so. I think. I think. Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:08:49] That’s what everyone says. Don’t worry, you’re you’re in good hands here at theGrio. Okay, Question number two. This politician made history when she was elected mayor of one of the country’s largest city. She’s the first openly gay Black woman to be mayor of any major city in the United States. Who is she and what city? 

Josh Johnson [00:09:09] I believe it’s Lori Lightfoot in Chicago. Does that work? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:09:14] Correct, Lori Lightfoot, we did it. 

Josh Johnson [00:09:17] We did. 

[00:09:17] Come on. You know, you killing the game out here. Lori Lightfoot was elected mayor of Chicago in 2019, the first Black woman to ever hold that position. She did not win reelection this year, which is the first time a Chicago mayor has not won reelection in nearly 40 years. Lightfoot is an attorney by training and served on the Chicago Police Board and the city’s police accountability task force before becoming mayor. She’s openly discussed the death of her family member being killed by the KKK as a driving force behind her commitment to public service and justice and shoutout to Lori’s successor after a really intense runoff. Brandon Johnson, an educator and a union organizer, will now lead the country’s third-largest city. His leadership will signal a new start to Chicago, saying he truly invests in all of its people. So Chicago’s in for a new day Josh. We know that you lived in Chicago at one period of time. It’s your favorite city to do some comedy. Tell us a little bit more about your time in Chicago. Where exactly did you live? 

Josh Johnson [00:10:12] So I lived in Rogers Park almost the entire time and then I would go down to other parts for the shows and everything. So I went down to the south side. Back when jokes and notes was there and then went to, you know, that Gold Coast area, Belmont area, you know, theater districts and stuff, did a lot of shows in those places, would go out to the West Side sometimes and I just really love it. I think it’s one of the best cities to do comedy and period. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:10:42] So when you travel around the United States during doing stand-up, do you prefer large cities or do you like some of the smaller cities where maybe the population that comes in to the club is a little less obvious as far as their political leanings or what they’re into? Do you find that more of a challenge? 

Josh Johnson [00:11:01] I definitely don’t have. Favorites outside of yeah, obviously Chicago, but I definitely don’t have places where I don’t want to go or am more excited to go than others. You know, for me, it’s all part of the experience of trying to do comedy everywhere because it’s the only way to really feel funny is if you’re universally funny, you never want to go to a place and then have the excuse, Oh, this is a small town or Oh, this is a big city. They just don’t get me. I think that every comedian working wants to be funny to everyone and so as far as challenges. I don’t know. I mean, political leanings haven’t really influenced most of my stand-up. No matter what people are in the crowd, they might have I might have one or two jokes that they don’t like. But I’m I’m not steeped in politics for the course of my hour. So there’s very little to disagree with. I’m mostly talking about my life, so it’s probably pretty good. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:08] Can;t disagree with my life. It’s my life. 

Josh Johnson [00:12:09] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don’t know if I you can get offended at my life. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:15] That that’s a fair point. You know, I think I mean, as I’ve said on this podcast so many times, the the way comedians shine a light on society, you know, and I studied classics as an undergraduate and, you know, every society is the Greeks and Romans, Egyptians. You know, they always said you need doctor, lawyer, educator and comedian. Those are like the four essential ingredients to a productive society and I think that the way you all organize your lives and put them on a platter for us to digest and see ourselves in your own lives, I think is just such a brilliant way to contribute to society. Like do. 

Josh Johnson [00:12:58] That’s very nice of you. Organized as a strong word. That’s. Organized. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:04] It’s when you got into comedy? I mean, was it just sort of like everyone tells me I’m funny, so let me just do this? Or did you really have like something that you needed to get out to say? Like, how did we how did we get here? 

Josh Johnson [00:13:17] It was a little bit of both. I definitely had people who thought that I was funny. I don’t think because I’m not. I’m not the most extroverted person. So then a lot of people were surprised that I did stand-up when I told them I had started. But then people would tell me I was funny in conversation and stuff, and I definitely had ideas that I felt were really funny or interesting that I really wanted to express to people. That’s one of the main things that comedy taught me, was was how to talk to people to a certain degree. So I’m very blessed to have it in my life for that reason especially. But I think that for the most part, you know, it was it was just you’re you’re always in search of something and I think when you when you find it, even if you can’t place it, you sort of know you you’re there and and. From the first few times I did stand-up, I felt like I was home, you know? And so I just kept pursuing it because of that. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:24] Okay. So we’re going to break. We’re listening to The Blackest Questions I’m talking to Josh Johnson. I’m fascinated by comedians and the way you all organize your lives and your lives for us. We’ll be right back after this quick commercial break. Okay. We’re back, I’m with Josh Johnson. We’re talking about all things comedy, politics and his new comedy special streaming on Peacock titled Up Here Killing Myself. Josh, are you ready for question number three? 

Josh Johnson [00:14:50] I feel almost good. Let’s do it. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:53] So this comedian was the first Black person to host the Oscars solo. Here’s a hint. It’s not Sammy Davis Jr or Richard Pryor. They did host the ceremony, but they shared the hosting gig with others. This person hosted the Oscars solo. Who is this person? 

Josh Johnson [00:15:12] Oh, Chris Rock. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:16] No, the answer is Whoopi Goldberg. In 1994 Whoopi became the first Black person and the first Black woman to host Hollywood’s biggest night completely by herself. 

Whoopi Goldberg [00:15:28] Welcome to Oscars 66. So they went and gave me a live microphone for 3 hours. There haven’t been this many show biz executives so nervous sweating over one woman since Heidi Fleiss, honey. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:44] She hosted the Academy Awards again in 1996, 1999 and 2002. Whoopi is one of only four women to be crowned an EGOT winner. That means she’s taken home an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. She was the second Black woman to ever win an Academy Award for her role in Ghost. 

Whoopi Goldberg [00:16:01] God damnit. Don’t you take the Lord’s name in vain with me. You understand? I don’t take it. Relax. No, you relax. You’re the dead guy. You want me to help? You better apologize. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:16:08] And she was the first Black woman to be nominated in both the best actress and best supporting actress category and before making it big as both a comedian and an actress, Whoopi once worked at a funeral home where she applied makeup to corpses. So, I mean, you know, you think I think, sadly, a lot of people, you know, my students and and a lot of folks who you don’t pay too much attention to comedy just know Whoopi Goldberg, as you know, someone who sits at the table at The View. But this woman is bad. I mean, she just like her career and her resume, are just insanity. Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting her? 

Josh Johnson [00:16:42] I have not. I I’ve been a fan for a long time because, you know, like most kids, I think there’s this there’s this era of knowing Eddie Murphy, knowing Whoopi Goldberg, knowing them in the in the general, you know, makeup of Hollywood and knowing them from movies, whereas people who are older, they may know them from stand-up. Watch the stand-up when it came out and everything went to shows back when they were doing lots of stand-up and I know that Whoopi Goldberg had this Moms Mabley show her that I never got the pleasure of, you know, seeing live or anything. But is is someone who’s just always been an incredible talent, whether it was stand-up or acting. Just while I know about the EGOT. That’s. That’s crazy. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:17:34] Oh, yes. She’s definitely got an EGOT. You know, and now that Jennifer Hudson has won, you know, Jennifer Hudson’s following in her footsteps. But yeah, I think about someone like Whoopi in these debates that, you know, unfortunately circle every few years. You know, are women as funny as men? And I know that you you know, you collaborate with women on The Daily Show. You know, have you toured and, you know, been in the comedy scene and had these discussions with female comedians and so there’s some of the similarities and differences that you all face when going on stage in front of different audiences. 

Josh Johnson [00:18:07] I mean, we’ve talked about it and I think that I do think that a lot of women doing comedy are in an unenviable position where one of the things that is a hindrance is the ways that if you look, you take a man, right? Take a man and joke about a man. Anything that happens to a man can be funny and can be seen as funny by everybody because men have been seen as the sort of standard experience. So then you can put a man in whatever situation and could still be seen as funny no matter how good it is or how horrible it is, right? So if someone’s doing a joke about how they got mugged as a man, you know, man doing stand-up talks about how he got robbed or something. There isn’t there isn’t a quick instinct in the audience to protect him or feel sorry for him, especially if he’s already laughing about the thing and that is something that’s working against women when they’re doing comedy. If a woman goes up there and tells you about how she got mugged. People are instantly like, I’m so sorry that happened to you. It’s a very different way that we perceive men and women. So then the reactions for comedy are going to be instinctually different to where a woman that’s doing comedy has to overcome those hurdles and be aware of them and still have like the stage presence and the storytelling and the joke writing of a male comic. But it is another hurdle to overcome and it’s just part of being in our society. It’s not even a. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:19:51] The construct of the institution. 

Josh Johnson [00:19:51] Before you get to any sexism. Yeah. It’s a construct. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:19:54] Intersectionality of race and gender for Black female comedian. 

Josh Johnson [00:19:58] Yes. So then you’ll find that that’s why some people have such a tough stage persona, is to overall negate those expectations of needing help, needing to be looked after, needing, you know, concern more than just needing to make people laugh with the jokes that they’ve written and so I think that that is a that’s the biggest hurdle and that’s before you get to any actual inequity, That’s that’s baseline. Everyone shows up with the best of intentions. There’s still going to be I can I can go up and tell jokes about how maybe my girlfriend slapped me and we’re all still ready to laugh and I’ll be like, Well, look, let me tell you what I did. I don’t know. Like, you know, a woman walks up and she’s talking about how her boyfriend smacked her around. It’s like, these better be some great jokes because now we’re all like, Are you in a bad situation? Do you need help? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:20:50] Right. 

Josh Johnson [00:20:50] Oh, my gosh. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:20:51] You know, before we go to the commercial break, I just want our listeners to sort of reflect on, you know, that Chris Rock joke where he says, you know, you wouldn’t ever hit a woman, but he’ll shake her and so, you know, that’s huge laughs. But I’m curious as to to think about if a woman told the joke from a different vantage point about her boyfriend shaking her as opposed to Chris Rock doing the shaking. Hmm. Josh, you’ve given us some things to think about on Blackest Questions. We’re going to take a quick commercial break and ponder some of these thoughts. Okay, We’re back. I was just Jonathan, comedian, podcaster and host of the new special on Peacock, Up Here Killing Myself. Josh, We had a little stumble in question number three, but that’s quite a right. Are we ready for question number four? We can do it. 

Josh Johnson [00:21:35] Sure. Yeah. Yeah, we’re doing it. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:21:37] This hip hop group made history in 2002 when they played at Lincoln Center in Manhattan, just down the street from my office, the same place that houses the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Ballet. The group’s founding members met while they were attending the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Can you name this group? 

Josh Johnson [00:21:55] I wanted to say Outkast initially, but then you said Philadelphia. I was like, Nah. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:22:02] All right. Because Outkast is in the South, has something to say. Shout out to the ATL.  

Josh Johnson [00:22:07] Yeah. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:22:09] So the key word is Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing art. Ding, ding, ding. 

Josh Johnson [00:22:15] Uh, Salt-N-Pepa. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:22:18] Okay, So. Salt-N-Pepa I believe is from Long Island. The answer is The Roots. The band was formed in 1987 by Questlove and Tariq Black Thought Trotter. The Roots are known for their jazzy approach to hip hop music and the incorporation of live instrument Rolling Stone magazine named The Roots, one of the greatest live acts in the world and since 2009, they’ve been the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s late night show. The band holds a one day music festival in Philadelphia every year called The Roots Picnic. I believe they’ve extended it now to like two or three days, and they also host a jam session every night before the Grammy. Both gatherings have become star studded events. The Roots are now global. Far, far away from just, you know, playing clubs in Philly. I know you’re a writer for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and you’ve gone back and performed in the show is fantastic. Tell us what it’s like getting to work with, you know, legendary talent like Jimmy Fallon and also The Roots. 

Josh Johnson [00:23:14] Everyone that I’ve met in the routes. I met pretty much one at a time, just like individually and everything and they are all so dope. Like every one of them has been so cool, you know, like Black Thought had me out to his show one time. This is before the pandemic. He was doing a show during New York Comedy Festival, and he hit me up to do it. Questlove is so talented and and so but kindhearted to chat with and everything. James is amazing, too. So it really was cool that not only are they these top tier musicians that are incredibly accomplished, but they’re still very down to earth, very laid back and and willing to chat to anybody that, you know, walks up and even though even though I was working there so they didn’t have to worry about me, it was a situation where I just like got past some security and was like, I’m a fan, you know? Right. It was like, No, you see me every day. But still, you know, yeah, I’m big into all of them and I appreciate their work very much. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:24:17] What I you think is fascinating that, you know, pretty soon there’s going to be a whole generation of people who know Questlove as either documentarian or a food critic and food scholar, you know, and they’ll say, like, oh, yeah, he’s also with this band, you know, I mean, his his career has just gone in so many beautifully interesting directions. But, you know, you just said something that made me think about Joan Rivers, who was my favorite comedian growing up, you know, and just like this idea about being kind and respectful to all different types of people because you never know who you’ll be kind of going up and going down. You know, In her career, she played venues of 20 people, 200 people, 2000 people, 20,000 people and then she had times where she went from 20,000 down to 20 and was really thankful to be able to play a venue with just 20 people, you know, And because she’d been kind to others and they they opened up the door and so I love this idea that super talented people, you know, across various occupations and talent are just really decent human beings. You know, it makes me happy to know that. Time for a quick break. We’ll be right back. Okay, We’re back. Josh, last official question. Are you ready for question number five? 

Josh Johnson [00:25:32] Yes. Yeah, I finally feel ready. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:25:34] Okay. Question number five. This state has the second largest percentage of Black residents in the country, only behind Mississippi. The state also houses six historically Black colleges. What state is it? 

Josh Johnson [00:25:52] Georgia. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:25:53] That’s a valid guess, but the answer is Louisiana. African-Americans now make up 33% of the state’s population. Formerly enslaved Africans were brought to Louisiana and have a long lasting impact on culture, music, cuisine, jazz, blues, all types of music are traced back to Black Louisianans and as I mentioned, there are six HBCUs in Louisiana, and the state is also home to the only HBCU college system, which is the Southern University system. So I know that you spent a little bit of time in Alexandria, Louisiana. When was that and how was that? 

Josh Johnson [00:26:28] So that that’s actually where I was born. I went to college in Shreveport and Alexandra was like home. That’s where everyone lived for a while until, you know, we all sort of migrated out and everything. But yeah, Alexandria is it’s it’s it’s alright. I think I’ve been inspired. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:26:50] How was it like living in the South? Because what I spent time in Chicago and the Illinois area was like, all these people are Southerners and so, you know, that kind of migratory route. But how was it, you know, going to college in the south, in the proper south, not just Chicago with with the expats and transplant. 

Josh Johnson [00:27:07] And I think with this, this is my main thing. I think that when you are growing up in the South as a as a Black person, especially a Black person that gets into comedy, I think that you move through more spaces with ease, especially in comparison to other people, because you’ve been around so many types of people and you’ve been around so many types of people, they didn’t want you around. You’ve learned how to talk to people. You’ve learned of what the dog whistles were. You just you’ve learned a deeper understanding of a melting pot than I think a lot of people get in other places. I think some people really do grow up with everyone thinking the way that they think, and then they have these culture shocks and I, I definitely had less culture shock moving in Chicago, moving to New York than some of my friends did who were moving from, let’s say, from, you know, Florida to New York or, you know, from Connecticut to Philly, like and I think that some of that is it’s very hard. It’s very difficult to truly, truly make bubbles in some parts of the South because even if it’s against all of our will, where we’re all around each other. You know, I mean, and not in a New York way. Not no, We’re on top of each other way, but just in a we run in each other’s circles consistently. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:28:34] And, you know, listening to you say that makes me think about, you know, Pat Brown is comedian from the South. Roy Wood, Jr. Rickey Smiley, all of them had sort of mentioned how the South is really helped with their comedy because you have so and that saying that, you know, New Yorkers are diverse. We definitely are. You know Malcolm X says anything south of the Canadian border is the U.S. south, which I fundamentally agree. But I do think that there is something about being in the Deep South and telling jokes and getting people of all different stripes to to laugh and to be present with you as you you know, as you’ve laid out. Tell your story. Is there do you have like a you have any go to that, you shift any of your jokes, say when you’re in the Deep South versus say, when you’re in Chicago? Or is it just, hey, listen, you’re going to get these jokes and whether you fully appreciate them and understand them, that’s kind of what you. 

Josh Johnson [00:29:23] I will probably add stuff, but I don’t take anything out. I think that everyone wants to have the feeling that the show that they came to is for them. So because of that, I’ll add things. But as far as the things that I think are funny and the things that I’m working on, I don’t really shift too much because you don’t you don’t want to be universal through being a chameleon and always sort of playing to every room that you’re in, in a way that’s not authentic. You want to be universal through you having things to say that everybody can relate to and you won’t know everyone can relate unless you try it for everyone. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:30:02] Oh, I love that. Okay, Josh, I’m just. I really love the way you think about comedy. Okay, We’re gonna take quick break. You done very well. We’re going to come back and we’re going to play the Black Lightning Round. Hi. You’re listening to the Blackest Questions. I’m Christina Greer. I’m here with Josh Johnson, comedian and podcaster. Josh, are you ready for the Black Lightning Round? 

Josh Johnson [00:30:21] Yep. Yep. Let’s do it. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:30:23] Here we go. There are no right or wrong answers. I just want you to tell me. The first thing that comes to mind was I ask the question. Okay. If you could go back and perform in one of these stages, are you picking Def Comedy Jam or Comic view? 

Josh Johnson [00:30:37] Um, I think Comic View because Def Comedy Jam had such high stakes. It really was like if you go back and watch it now, you’ll see the people that bombed and you’re like, Oh. Oh, no. I didn’t  realize that was an option, when I was little, I felt like I always saw people kill. So I feel like comic view was a way to be just as funny and get people just as hyped but not have the, oh, the stakes of like it took them too long. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:31:02] The feeling of the guillotine. 

Josh Johnson [00:31:05] Because sometimes it will be stuff that’s not even quite your fault. Like, maybe it takes them so long to load in the second audience that they’ve been waiting for hours. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:31:14] And they’re hot. Not in a good way. 

Josh Johnson [00:31:16] Yeah. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:31:17] Yeah. Okay. All right. Second one. What’s better? The original Fresh Prince of Bel Air or the new Peacock remake Bel Air? 

Josh Johnson [00:31:25] Okay because I’m from the nineties. It’s going to be very hard for anything to compete with the original. But I do think that the new Bel Air on a long enough timeline is going to more than catch up because they’re doing such interesting things with it that I personally feel like we have all the nostalgia and nostalgia is very hard to beat. But I think that when someone’s doing something new and interesting and engaging it, if you if you give it time to breathe, it’s hard for it to not level up with the thing you already love. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:32:02] That’s true and it’s a little darker and a little more nuanced. I haven’t seen a lot of it, but I am excited about it. Okay. Who would you rather have a drink with? Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock or Kevin Hart? 

Josh Johnson [00:32:14] Uh huh. I think I think Chappelle, because I think Chappelle has clocked more hours of doing comedy than anybody working that I know of and I think his perspective on comedy and and his thoughts on how to and when to make people laugh would be would be incredible. Like, I think I think you go to Kevin Hart for, you know, advice about jokes and and business advice especially and then you go to Rock for writing and and for, you know, creating a sort of motif that people can follow that they can fall in love with. But I think Chappelle’s, because of the amount of time that he’s been doing it, not just in years, but my man will just stay at the show doing his set for like over 2 hours, you know. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:13] And stay present. 

Josh Johnson [00:33:14] Very few people do that. Yeah. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:16] Okay. Last one. Chicago deep dish pizza. Are we going to eat it or no? 

Josh Johnson [00:33:23] I definitely used to eat it, and I cannot anymore because I really want to live a long time. I want to live for decades. I just want to be an all Black man. Preferably rich, but just very old. Very, very like. But still spry. Like, you know, those people that you’re looking at as they’re so old. You wanna be one of those old guys where you’re like, How is he? 70? Right? You’re like, I, you know, I’m just chillin. Just eat my vegetables. You keep the antioxidants high and stuff and then then be 90 and people like Hawk, he’s 90, He’s still walking and I’m like, Yes, and I can hear you. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:59] Yeah. The key is water and stretching, right? You know, I can’t wait to be one of those 90 year old and just get to say whatever I want, whatever, you know? Yeah. Oh, well, she’s 90. What are you going to do? Josh, I want to thank you so much for joining us and I want to remind our listeners to check out Josh’s comedy special now streaming on Peacock. Up Here Killing Myself. So that’s Joshua Johnson. I want to thank you all for listening to the Blackest Questions. This show is produced by Sasha Armstrong and Geoffrey Trudeau, and Regina Griffin is our director of podcasts. If you like what you heard, subscribe to this podcast so you never miss an episode and you can find more at theGrio Black Podcast Network on the radio app, the website or YouTube. Have a great one. 

Panama Jackson [00:34:45] TheGrio Black Podcast Network presents Dear Culture: Tru’ish Black Stories. He’s simply known by one name. 

Monique Judge [00:35:07] Man. When the news of Ricky getting killed the neighborhood, everybody was sad. You know what I’m saying? Because it’s like, here’s this dude we all grew up with him, we knew him like, you know, And like I said, he just he was a cool dude. He never bother anyone. He just mind his business and go to school, play football, and that’s it. 

Michael Harriot [00:35:28] I think maybe it was about splitting up and see, that’s a metaphor for life, right? When Ricky and Trey split up, everybody knows, especially if you Black that you don’t split up. Harriet Tubman told us that like 200 years ago. Never split up. 

Panama Jackson [00:35:48] Moments in Black culture examined like never before. Join us each week as we dive into the Black moments that changed us. That changed the world. Watch the full episode of this Tru’ish Black story on theGrio Black Podcast Network, YouTube Channel, or theGrio’s website.