It might not be hard to be funny in a three-minute YouTube clip, but an hour-long comedy set is an entirely different story — as Anjelah Johnson, the “prittay” nail salon comedian, demonstrated at the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center (PAC) on Friday.
“So many people have seen the video, now I get scared when I walk into a nail salon,” Johnson joked during her act.
Bruce Howard, president of Otter Productions, Inc., helped bring Johnson to the PAC and called her comedy style “very female-oriented and very young-oriented.”
“I found out while researching her that she’s really big with a young, female demographic, and she’s super talented,” Howard said. “If a guy gets dragged by his girlfriend to go see the show, she’s going to end up getting a new fan.”
Johnson stood in front of a nearly sold-out crowd at the PAC and tried to make the audience laugh. Most of the time, she succeeded. But by the end, Johnson’s one-trick pony got too tired to gallop across the finish line.
Johnson performed “No Boyfriend,” a song parody based off her nail salon bit, and a Bon Qui Qui-themed rap to polite applause. The notoriety of the characters made the jokes fall flat.
Johnson switched gears to talk about life as a newlywed.
“I’m married now — how ‘bout that?” Johnson asked the audience and received a wave of applause.
Johnson went on to poke fun at the road bumps of married life, recounting a time when her husband asked to borrow her toothbrush. He compared it to kissing.
“‘I do not scrape off your tartar with my tongue,’” Johnson said to her husband.
Johnson’s husband is Puerto Rican, while Johnson is Mexican.
“We got some Mexicans in the house?” Johnson asked the audience.
Applause and cheers erupted.
“Oh, so a few,” Johnson deadpanned.
A good chunk of her routine focused on the differences between her and her husband’s cultures. Johnson, when focusing in on her Mexican background, performed a string of “chola” jokes.
She asked an older, white male in the front row his name.
“Roy,” he said.
“Do you know what a chola is, Roy?” Johnson asked him from the edge of the stage.
Roy shook his head.
“Turn around — there’s a few,” she said to hollers from the group of women behind Roy.
But when Johnson showed off merchandise onstage, the display seemed desperate. For example, she showed nail files for sale that read, “Do you like crystal gel?”
Still, Director of Cal Poly Arts Steve Lerian said Johnson’s show is unique since it’s more PG-13 than R-rated comedy.
“What’s interesting is that, as opposed to many comedians out there today, Anjelah’s performances are usually pretty profanity-clean,” he said. “It’s a nice element that she can use the English language without dropping 15 million F-bombs right out of the gate.”
The opener Nate Bargatze also kept his comedy routine clean.
“It’s weird when your dad’s a clown,” he said, joking about his strange childhood. “It’s weird every day. Have you ever been yelled at by a clown?”
In a short time, Bargatze covered everything from Under Armour — “I would look better with no shirt on than this.” — to what the doctors said when he brought his baby home from the hospital — “Obviously, you’re gonna wanna shake this baby, but it would be so awesome if you could not shake the baby.”
Although Johnson got laughs, Bargatze was the biggest, best surprise of the night.
Click here to read Mustang Daily’s Q&A with Anjelah Johnson.