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Comedian and writer Josh Johnson chats with Funny Times about bridging the gap between generations and why "we're living in Funny Times"
The first thing you’ll notice about Josh Johnson is his ability to put you at ease with his smile. It’s a smile that spreads across his face the way one does when hiding a pleasant surprise behind your back. He’s approachable and easygoing, and despite his success as Comedy Central's most-watched comedian, his Emmy nomination, and an NAACP award, sitting down to talk with him was like a conversation with a friend. He oozes good-natured humor, making the most controversial topics the perfect fodder for routines. It’s a talent on full display in his comedy special, streaming now on Peacock, Up Here Killing Myself. When he’s not performing stand-up, Josh is a writer for The Daily Show. But, more importantly, he’s a featured writer in the April issue of Funny Times!
What makes something funny?
“I laugh out of recognition. I laugh when there's misdirection and when talented people can finish a thought I've always had but haven't been able to articulate.” Josh explained that great humor happens in multiple layers, and for those who create humor, it’s paramount to speak from your own perspective.
How was writing a humor piece for Funny Times different from writing jokes for stand-up?
“When you're writing for stand-up, you can cheat through it not being well written.” When thinking about his piece for Funny Times, “What’s My Problem?” Josh says he had to keep in mind, “it's gonna sound however it sounds in the person's head. When you're telling a joke, if it's not working, you can save yourself, and that's just not something that's available with written humor.”
Why are we living in Funny Times?
“There's still a vehement political movement and political rhetoric that's trying to keep the same energy that had everyone fired up in 2016, but it just can't exist for Biden. He doesn't have enough of a personality, and he doesn't have the boisterousness to be able to sell that idea.”
He does have really cool sunglasses, though.
“Yeah, he does. They made him look cooler and easily twenty years younger.”
How can older folks help the next generation cope with the events of the past few years?
“Hearing experiences is a way to help ground people and realize that so much of what people go through is universal. Obviously, there was not a pandemic 50 years ago, but there have been recessions and depressions that mimic the level of fear and anxiety that people had during the pandemic.”
What do you, as a young person, wish that older people knew about your generation?
“Young people aren’t obsessed with their phones. They're obsessed with the connection and community that they feel like they can get through the interactions they have on their phones.”
Josh’s special, “Up Here Killing Myself” tackles issues such as mental health, growing up poor in Louisiana, and dealing with the modern world with both hilarity and insight. It had the office laugh-crying at our desks. We are sure our Funny Times Readers will enjoy it as much as we did!
Photo by: Hayden Schiff from Cincinnati, USA, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons