I Don’t Matter Right Now

I never know when to pipe up during times like this.  I’m not writing jokes because I never do well writing from an angry place.  Ok, one joke…

And I don’t need to be heard from right now.  I can only amplify the words of those who need to be heard.

A quick story… I was driving to a gig one night and my friend Bryant Hicks was in the passenger seat.  (He’s very funny and one of the nicest dudes you’ll ever meet.  Check him out.)

I misjudged a stop light and accidentally ran the red.  Bryant said, “You’re good. I don’t think there’s a camera at that light.”

I said, “Well, if there is, they’ll probably send you the ticket.”

Bryant laughed hard and tagged it with “They’ll be like ‘How did that black guy manage to run a red light from the passenger seat?!”

It’s a joke and we had a good laugh.  But I wish it wasn’t a joke grounded in reality  

I had my share of run-ins with cops when I was younger.  Not because I’d done anything wrong.  But because I was a young guy with long hair driving a red ’65 Mustang.  

They never had a real reason to pull me over.  And I was just barely polite.  Cooperative, but with a LOT of eye rolling.  Mouthy at times.

But I could get away with it.  And every time I see police abusing black folks I remember those times and know what the difference was.

Side note: I’ve only called the cops for help once – after a bad car accident – and they refused to come.

The deluge of news is confusing.  What’s real and what’s not.  It’s mentally taxing and painful to watch.  But I’m also comfortably ensconced in my suburban home so that doesn’t matter.  

Staying engaged and elevating the voices of others is the absolute least I can do.

This post on Medium has a lot of good advice on how to help.  It’s a little overwhelming so maybe don’t try to ingest the whole thing at one time. But it’s not as overwhelming as being beaten by a cop.  So hang in there.

And black artists are near and dear to my heart.  So I made you a playlist of black artists that have had a profound effect on my own work.  If you’ve ever enjoyed a song for a joke from me, it wouldn’t have been the same without the influence of these talented people.  So go give it a listen.

The world has changed over the last few months.  And I hope for the better once it’s all sorted out.  Soon we’ll be able to get the same room and laugh and sing together again.  And I can’t wait for that.

Stay healthy, stay thoughtful.  

Want to see a preview of my new comedy special, “Burning Sensation”?

It’s definitely not in finished form yet. Lots more work (the color…oof) to do on it yet.

But I wanted to share with you. I’m very proud of this show, including (especially?) the uncomfortable moments.

Because I always turn it around into a laugh.

If you’d like to pre-order the special (Digital or DVD), you can get it here. 

Pre-orders are a huge help to me so I have a budget to promote this thing when it’s released.

And there’s a LOT more to this bit. I hope you’re itching to see the rest of it. It’s one of my favorites in the show. 🙂

One In The Can! – Good Times at Art Boutiki

Comedian Phil Johnson at Art Boutiki in San Jose, CA
A still image from the film we shot at Art Boutiki in San Jose, CA for my new special “Burning Sensation”.

We’ve got one show of comedy special v2.0 officially in the can.  I had a great time with the hometown crowd in San Jose at Art Boutiki.  We’ve got some great footage that I’ve seen so far and the audio came out great.

<Wipes forehead in a “whew” gesture.>

We’re filming 2 more shows in early 2020.  Why?  Because SF Bay Area audiences can be tough to keep on board for a whole show.  And even with my hometown crowd there were a few bits that I wish had gone over better.  But I know somewhere else will like them.  So I’ll be assembling the best of the best for you to see in my new special.

I’ll also be including some fun documentary stuff about what it takes to get a special like this accomplished when you don’t have Netflix or Comedy Central throwing big money at it.

It’s going to be way different than what I originally imagined.  But I think it will be very cool.  And I should have known that calling the show “Burning Sensation” would come back to bite me in the ass. 

Here’s where the other two shows will be filmed.  Join us if you’re in the area!

January 25th, 2020 – DNA’s Comedy Lab – Santa Cruz, CA
February 1st, 2020 – Sally Tomatoes – Rohnert Park, CA

I’ve also been pondering what I might do about the audio release.  That won’t include the documentary stuff and I think it might be weird to have bits broken out of each show in audio form.  

Maybe I’ll just pick the best of the 4 and release that?  Maybe I’ll release all 4 of them in their entirety?  

Comedy Special v2.0 Begins!

Phil Johnson at Comedy Palace

As you may have heard by now, the shows we filmed in San Diego in August for my new special were absolutely fantastic.  I was elated both with the audience and my performance.  I took one day off to bask in a job well done before getting down to the work of editing the show and…

Uh oh.  Two of the four cameras were pretty sketchy.  One of them being the main “back of the room” shot.  But after some discussion with an editor friend of mine we decided we could work with it with some color correction and fancy editing.

Then I put the audio tracks on and they were… to put it nicely… an absolute fucking disaster.

Distorted, peaking, and with all 4 mics mixed down to two tracks instead of having 4 separate tracks.  Which means there’s nothing I can do with them.  

So as great as the shows were, that final product that I could have wrangled out of them would have been an embarrassment to release.

So now we begin v2.0

The great part is that a ton of people have stepped up to help me with the project since I announced that debacle. And so the plan for it has changed a little bit.

Now we’re going to film four shows around the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m also going to be filming a bunch of documentary stuff around it to give you some insight into what it takes to get a project like this finished when you don’t have Comedy Central or Netflix throwing money at it.

I’m either hiding a standup special in a documentary or hiding a documentary in a standup special. We’ll see which way it goes. 🙂

Where them shows at, yo?

Well, I’ll tell you. We’ve got them all scheduled, camera crews are ready and we’re rolling out.

Saturday October 19th, 2019 at Art Boutiki in San Jose, CA In the can!
Saturday January 25th at DNA’s Comedy Lab in Santa Cruz, CA
Saturday February 1st at Sally Tomatoes in Rohnert Park, CA

After the shows are filmed we’re looking at a Spring 2020 release for the special depending on how all the back end stuff goes. I’m anxious to get it out to you both so you can see and so I can quit doing this material and work on new stuff. 😉

More news here as it comes!

#30SecSongs

So, what’s up with all these tiny ass songs?

If you’ve been following my social media accounts for the last couple weeks you’ve seen the miniature songs I’ve been posting each day. There’s a purpose behind them. Let me tell you what’s up.

I’ve been working really hard on the standup parts of my show for the last couple years.  And that focus has taken my brain away from songwriting.
While I’ve written a few things recently, they’re not anything I’m super excited about or think can compete with my previous work. 

I’ve been going through this thing of really really missing writing songs but also feeling intimidated by the process of doing so because I’m out of practice.  It’s the words. It’s always the words. And of course, when writing comedy music the words are kind of important.

So I was thinking about a low pressure way to put my brain back on song mode without having to worry about sustaining a premise for 2-3 minutes.
And that’s where #30SecSongs comes in.  A daily song that clocks in at 30 seconds (give or take 15 seconds). 

I stockpiled 150 ideas to get it going while I write the rest of them. And the plan is to put one out every day for a whole year.

Some will be funny. Some will be duds. Either way you get a little something new from me each day and I get to whip my musical mind back into shape.

Let’s see what happens!
You can follow along with the daily videos on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Or you can watch the first 200 in the playlist below.
Feel free to like, comment, share and we’ll see which ones might turn into something larger.