Josh Johnson is a comedic talent with "two very distinct voices."
Working for "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" motivates him to write comedy every day, even if he isn't feeling funny. Performing stand-up comedy allows him to "touch on a universal experience by not touching on politics."
The New York-based comic, who has appeared on Comedy Central, "Conan," and "The Tonight Show," will perform Friday at the Majestic Theatre to launch the third season of Corvallis Comedy Night. Becky Braunstein of Portland is the show's opening act.
Johnson calls his stand-up material mostly observational with some anecdotal parts, and a lot of biographical sections about his life. "I'm not very political," he said.
His current routine involves a few new talking points: how the state of the world can be helped and his role in it, and everyone's approach to comedy and life that is subject to change.
"I have a lot of feelings," Johnson said and laughed. "I just want to make people laugh, but with stuff I think they will care about."
Johnson, a native of Alexandria, Louisiana, recalls he was may be 14 years old when he first saw Christopher Titus' "Norman Rockwell is Bleeding." He fell in love with the 2004 comedy special, and told all of his friends about it.
"I think that was when I was like, 'I want to do that thing,'" Johnson says of comedy. "I didn't know I could make it a job."
He said as a kid his two favorite comedians were Dave Chappelle and Bill Burr, though he also drew influence from Bill Cosby.
"There's a little bit of the Bill Cosby 'Himself' album that I thought was really well done in terms of how he made the idea of having kids out to be universal," Johnson said.
He moved to Chicago in 2012 to pursue comedy. Johnson performed at clubs like The Laugh Factory, Jokes and Notes on the Southside and in other independent shows, he said.
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Since then he has performed across the country and internationally at clubs, colleges and major festivals, including Just For Laughs in Montreal, SXSW, Bridgetown, Bumbershoot, the Riot L.A. Comedy Fest, and the New York Comedy Festival. In 2015, he was named one of Comedy Central's "Comics to Watch."
Johnson's stand-up career led him to take a chance writing comedy. He submitted his clips and a packet of jokes to "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon." They brought him in for an interview, and he was hired after that.
"I didn't even know or could see myself as a late night writer, or a writer of anything that wasn't just straight stand-up," he said.
He made his late night debut on the show in 2017, followed by performance on "Conan."
Johnson wouldn't say there was a breakout moment for him that sparked his opportunities on TV. It was more that he had a good set of material to perform on Fallon and another new set prepared for "Conan."
"I think that all of these things are like little checkmark moments, but they have not in any way solidified me (so) that I also don't have to think about what's next," he said.
That same year Johnson also released "I Like You," his first Comedy Central half-hour special and album. In 2018, his next stand-up special was part of "The Comedy Lineup" on Netflix.
Johnson, who has made appearances on the TV series "This Week at the Comedy Cellar," is currently on the road opening for Trevor Noah on the "Loud & Clear" tour. The show stops at the Moda Center in Portland on Dec. 14.
Johnson thinks a really good time is in store for the audience at Corvallis Comedy Night.
"I just want to cultivate an experience that's something the people will remember as fun," he said.