December 2, 2021

Josh Johnson Made Jimmy Fallon and Trevor Noah Funnier. Now It’s His Flip.

6 min read


Comedian Josh Johnson spent the primary few years of his comedy profession writing monologue jokes for Jimmy Fallon at The Tonight Present, after which crafting longer bits for Trevor Noah at The Each day Present. Now, after an prolonged pandemic-induced delay, he’s getting his personal voice on the market in a giant approach. Along with his new stand-up particular Hashtag, which is streaming now on Paramount+, Johnson additionally put out a mixtape album this year called Elusive, which mixes deeply humorous comedy and deeply emotional music.

On this week’s episode of The Last Laugh podcast, he opens up about how a worry of dying younger pushed him to develop his artistic ambitions and shares tales from his late-night writing gigs, together with what it was like to look at Fallon playfully ruffle Donald Trump’s hair and the way working with Trevor Noah has made him a greater comic.

“I had all the time needed a particular since I used to be a little bit child,” Johnson, who grew up close to Shreveport, Louisiana, watching Comedy Central, tells me. “In my thoughts, that was the top.”

He was about to realize that dream in March 2020 when he began to understand that his deliberate taping would probably get canceled—together with just about all the pieces else.

“You’ve obtained to recollect, on the time, in early 2020, we have been simply residing,” he says. “We had plans, everyone was chilling. And so at the same time as some worry across the pandemic began to emerge and even because the virus began to unfold to different locations, I used to be like, ‘Oh, I’ll be nice.’ Then as locations began locking down, I used to be like, ‘Oh, ought to we do that?’”

After Comedy Central indefinitely postponed the particular taping, Johnson says he felt sorry for himself for a couple of days. “Then I ended desirous about something besides not dying,” he explains. “I do really feel like if the world ended, I might have a lot larger issues. Like, now I obtained to discover ways to battle.”

Within the 12 months between the unique taping date and once they have been lastly in a position to shoot it, Johnson threw out just about all of his materials and began over from scratch. “It’s a distinct hour,” he says. “I don’t assume that there’s any jokes from what I deliberate on doing in what I did.”

“I actually thought I would die final 12 months,” he provides, sincerely. “I didn’t even get COVID, however anytime there’s even a abdomen flu going round, I’m normally the third one to drop. Once I noticed the numbers, I used to be like, yo, this is likely to be it for me. And I used to be being actually cautious. I used to be doing all these things that might’ve made Fauci smile, however I nonetheless was like, ‘Hey, you by no means know.’”

This worry is a part of what pushed Johnson to place out his first album similtaneously he was finalizing his first particular. He had all the time needed to jot down and produce music, so he determined to cease placing it off and make the leap, producing what ended up being a 33-track mixtape album that oscillates between brief stand-up bits and deeply honest music that exists someplace between hip-hop, gospel and soul. “There have been no excuses,” he says. “I had nothing however time.”

That line echoes a bit from his stand-up particular about how lockdown “made a liar” of all of us who claimed to have massive ambitions, however proceeded to spend the previous 12 months and a half watching TV. “I’ve all the time mentioned, my whole life, ‘If I solely had the time,’” he jokes.

For Johnson, it was a giant step to place himself out into the world after spending a lot time writing for different comedians in his late-night TV jobs. When he moved from Chicago to New York and shortly landed a task on The Tonight Present employees, he says he would write one thing like 125 jokes in a day, and just one or two would make it into that night time’s monologue. The following day, he’d begin from scratch and do it once more.

Once I’m writing jokes that I really feel like Jimmy [Fallon] would say, I’m not pimping him out to attempt to say one thing edgy. You clearly want to jot down for an individual’s voice.

“I perceive what it takes to ship a joke,” he says. “So after I’m writing jokes that I really feel like Jimmy [Fallon] would say, I’m not pimping him out to attempt to say one thing edgy. You clearly want to jot down for an individual’s voice, however you additionally want to jot down to what that individual could be comfy saying.”

He had been on the present for a number of months in 2016 when Fallon gleefully messed up the hair of his visitor Donald Trump, setting off months of controversy over supposedly making an attempt to humanize the bigoted presidential candidate.

Whereas many individuals may need puzzled what it was “prefer to be a fly on the wall within the second that was occurring,” Johnson was there and says he had no concept it might blow up the way in which it did. “I positively didn’t really feel that approach within the room on the time, as a result of it’s very intoxicating to be round individuals who really feel a sure approach,” he explains. “So when he’s ruffling his hair and the entire viewers is shedding their minds laughing, that kind of takes away the chunk.”

“I used to be not a fan of Trump within the least, the entire approach by,” he clarifies, including that like “lots of coastal elite liberals,” he by no means thought he really had an opportunity of successful the presidency in 2016. As for the argument that Fallon really helped Trump win by portraying him as a innocent comedy foil, Johnson says, “I imply, there’s a a lot larger problem at play if letting Fallon play together with your hair gained lots of votes. That makes you query who’s voting and the way they choose.”

All of that being mentioned, Johnson did depart The Tonight Present shortly after the election, touchdown at The Each day Present in early 2017.

“Working with Trevor Noah actually took me to a deeper place,” he says of the host who “offered” his new particular and has develop into a mentor of kinds. “And I like being in that deeper water, as a result of if somebody does come as much as me after a present, I can inform that I’ve left a deeper impression than I might have if I had not labored there.”

To date, Johnson has remained totally behind the scenes on the present, so I puzzled if he had secret ambitions of changing into an on-screen correspondent.

“I imply, perhaps?” he replies. “Probably. I’m open to it, however I’m not essentially gunning for it. I take a look at how laborious the correspondents work and I’m glad I’m the place I’m. That’s lots of additional.”

Hearken to the episode now and subscribe to ‘The Last Laugh’ on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcasts and be the primary to listen to new episodes when they’re launched each Tuesday.



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