For those of you who did buy tickets, refunds are available at the point of purchase.
As a special added blog bonus today, I'm offering you the story that I wrote up just last night to advance the concert. This was going to run in the Friday, Oct. 2 Tiempo. And just think: it's costing you nothing!
By Doug Pullen
El Paso Times
EL PASO — YouTube, that bastion of embarrassing superstar miscues and average folks' idiosyncracies, can be a career maker. It certainly hasn't hurt comedian Anjelah Johnson.
"YouTube changed my life," she says.
How so? Just check out "Nail Salon," the San Jose native and former Oakland Raiders cheerleader's knowing, hilarious spin on a routine encounter with an Asian manicurist. The 27-year-old Johnson, who prides herself on telling true-to-life stories and creating true-to-life characters, is still getting her petite hands around just how popular the clip has been on the Web site, where it's been viewed more than 13 million times.
"That resonated with so many people not only in California and the United States," she said by phone from Los Angeles, "but all over the world. I get messages from people in Australia, Europe, the Philippines. People get it. They understand it. The accent is so familiar. The story is something every woman who's ever gone to get their nails done can relate to."
That's a quality the fast-emerging comic strives for. Johnson, the middle of five kids whose parents are of Mexican and American Indian descent, likes to take inspiration from her own experiences. "It's very observational," she says of her comedy. "I share a lot of stories that have happened to me in life, a lot of relatable issues. I definitely like to do a lot of characters in my act, stuff about family and growing up."
Her act, which was filmed recently for a forthcoming Comedy Central special, is "very much like my life story. It grows and evolves," said Johnson, who calls herself "a storyteller."
Her story is pretty unusual. Johnson's first big-time performing experience was as an Oakland Raiderette. She was good enough at it to earn Rookie of the Year honors from the Raiders' cheerleaders, who, she admits, didn't have much to cheer, though rooting for the lowly losers "gives me a lot to write about."
Johnson is surprisingly new to the stand-up comedy gig, but is headlining clubs and small theaters only five years into her new line of work. "Comedy wasn't something I pursued, comedy pursued me," says the comedian, who relies on her faith to guide her.
"I can't explain how these doors opened for me," she says. "There are comedians who've been doing it for years and years and are just waiting for their big break. Really, I'm just being obedient (to God) and walking it every day."
Johnson's fledgling career got a couple of boosts in 2007. One was a small role opposite Gabrielle Union in "The Box," the other was a short but impactful stint on Fox's "MADtv." She only appeared in four episodes before being let go in that strike-threatened 2007-08 season, but her portrayal of the nail salon lady and Bon Qui Qui, the ghetto King Burger clerk, provided plenty of fodder for YouTube acolytes. She also got an ALMA Award nomination for her short-lived stint on the show.
"It was such a blessing being on the show for a short amount of time, a blessing in disguise because I was able to get the experience and the exposure and it was like a catapult for me," she said, though she's not sure if she got the ax as part of a budget cut or the writers strike that was looming.
While some might argue that her good looks helped open some of those doors, Johnson says being photogenic tends to make audiences skeptical, especially in the male-dominated world of stand-up comedy. "I remember when I first started there were obstacles. I had hoops to jump through. Because I'm not overweight an don't look funny, they automatically judge me, 'How can she be funny?' The first 10 minutes of my act are me trying to prove myself and they start listening to what I have to say."
People seeing her for the first time don't expect her to be funny. But Johnson tends to win them over with a sense of humor derived from her "jokester" dad and "silly" mom, not to mention her four siblings and her keen observational insights.
When it comes to career guidance, she looks up to the big comedy club owner in the sky for guidance as she maneuvers through a career that's branching into movies, including roles in this year's forthcoming Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel and next year's "The Wedding Project."
"(People) don't expect you to be funny. They expect you to be raunchy and dirty," she says. "They don't know what they're going to get when they get me. I don't believe that I have to play a man's game, play it the way he does. I'm so blessed to do things the way I want to do them, the way I feel comfortable. I haven't had to compromise who I am to get where I am. I stayed true to myself, my values, my core. It's proved beneficial to stick to who you are."