When Anjelah Johnson got a day off, she used to just be her own best date and enjoyed the down time alone.
But in June, the 29-year-old comedian/actress from California got married to Christian hip-hop artist Manwell Reyes of the act Group 1 Crew and now she is traveling more than ever.
When she’s not doing her own touring, Johnson is on the road with her husband. And when they both have a day off, as Johnson did during a recent interview with the Deseret News, they’re busy running errands – like going to the post office.
Johnson, however, says she’s having a great time being married. And jokingly, says part of the reason she did it was for her act.
“It provides me tons of material. That’s why I got married, I needed more material,” she said.
Lately, Johnson has been the road almost constantly as her popularity continues to climb. The Nail Salon, Bon Qui Qui stand-up comic will be at Kingsbury Hall on Nov. 5. (http://smithstix.com/events/item/root/anjelah-johnson).
Just ten years ago, Johnson was on the sidelines at Super Bowl XXXVII cheering the Oakland Raiders. Today, she has comedy sketches that have been viral sensations on You Tube and has starred in major television and movie productions.
Johnson’s career got started in 2002 when one of her friends who was an Oakland Raiderette, encouraged her to try out for the squad.
“I had never thought about being a professional cheerleader,” she said. “But I told myself I would do it for one year.”
During her season with the Raiders, Johnson had a chance to do one of the characters in the locker room that would later bring her international success. Her Vietnamese Nail Salon character was one she said she had been doing since she was a kid.
“All the Raiderettes would want me to do it. I didn’t think it would be as big as it is now,” she said.
Her Nail Salon act has about 25 million views on You Tube.
“Everything I say in that sketch has been said to me. Apparently it’s also been said to a lot of woman across the United States,” she said of the connection audiences have with the routine
Despite going to the Super Bowl and being named the cheerleader Rookie of the Year, Johnson had her bags packed the weekend after the Super Bowl ended and moved down to Los Angeles to pursue her real dream of becoming an actress.
“I pretty much knew I was there (in Oakland) for one year and then move on,” she said.
Her breaks, however, came in the field of comedy.
“Comedy was kind of a fluke, to be honest,” she said.
Johnson said she just randomly took a joke writing and stand-up comedy class at a church. At the end of the class, the group had to perform stand-up comedy at a real club.
“It ended up taking off,” she said.
Her stand-up routine ended up opening more doors for Johnson.
In 2007, she landed a spot on MADtv where one of her most famous characters, Bon Qui Qui, made her debut. Today, the sketch of the smart-mouthed fast food worker Bon Qui Qui with her catch phrases has more than 50 million views on You Tube.
“It ended up blowing up on You Tube. It helped my standup, just because of one character,” Johnson said.
The inspiration for Bon Qui Qui came from a fast food worker in Memphis, Tenn. and her brother.
“My brother is pretty much walking material. He’s ghetto fabulous. My brother is a trend setter,” she said. “My whole family is funny. My siblings, my dad thinks he’s funny. We all grew up laughing and being funny.”
Bon Qui Qui is also a character that just when Johnson thinks she’s run her course, she gets fans sending her pictures of themselves dressed like Bon Qui Qui and other show go to her shows dressed as the character.
“If I don’t mention her (during her stand-up), people scream and shout,” she said.
What’s both a little odd and flattering at the same time for Johnson is when she does meet-and-greets with fans after a show and they talk to her in her own character’s voice.
“People will come up and they’ll impersonate me and I’ll put a smile on and pretend it’s the first time I’ve ever heard someone imitating me,” she said. “But it’s fun experience to see they were touched by a character.”
Though she won’t reveal details, Johnson said fans of Bon Qui Qui should be happy to know that another Bon Qui Qui project is in the works.
Johnson appeared in “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” and 2010’s “Our Family Wedding,” as well as “Ugly Betty” on TV and her stand-up act on Comedy Central.
She is also always looking over scripts and other projects that are sent to her. But there are creation roles and parts Johnson won’t do. Johnson’s comedy is dominantly free of swear words and vulgarity.
“I think as long as you stick to your guns and who you are and stay true to yourself, your comedy should come easy,” she said. “I don’t use (swear words) in my everyday life. I don’t need it in my comedy. It’s about my friends, my family life, it’s kind of my take on my life. I don’t need to add extra cuss words, it’s not how I live my life anyway.”
For the future, Johnson hopes to be involved in more television and movie projects that she “believes in.”
“Thankfully I have a team of agents and a manager who believe in me and also understand that I won’t do things for the sake of getting famous. I have certain boundaries I don’t want to cross,” she said. “They’re weeding through certain things for me. They have the patience to stick with me and once the right project comes along for me.”