Arnez J Tickets
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Cannon Center For The Performing Arts
Oct 18 2015
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Arnez J is noted for offering comic routines, diverged from the hard-edged raunchy and streetwise observational styles of other contemporary African-American comedians.
Arnezs improvisational comic style is primarily physical, with a strong reliance on impressions and exaggerations of familiar personalities.
Media have given his name as Arnez Johnson who was born in Atlanta, grew up in a military family and never called one place home for long.
The Times Dispatch reported that Arnez J was 12 years old when The Carol Burnett Show went off the air in 1978. This would place his birth date in the middle of the comedy golden age that shaped his own style. J is a whirling dervish on stage: he runs, jumps, spins, slides, slips, and mugs through a performance.
He also acts out many of his bits while describing them, wrote Doug Kaufman in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Arnezs idols are the classic television comedians of the 1960s: Flip Wilson, Red Skelton, and a performer who might be considered an unlikely inspiration for a modern African-American male artist.
Spending part of his teenage years in the Denver area, Arnez J excelled in sports. During his studies at Aurora High School, he was both a baseball star (at third base) and a strong professional basketball prospect. But a criminal act landed him in prison for a year in the early 1980s.
After his release from prison, J sank into what he described as a two-year depression. However, in the late 1980s, he put his life back together, going through training and landing a job as a Continental Airlines flight attendant. His talent for making passengers laugh made him think about a new career.
Arnez Js talent for impressions carried over into his career as a comedian. He recalled his jokes as I entertained the passengers, always! If I went to San Francisco, I'd be a gay flight attendant, or for Boston, I'd be real hard and snobby. But people knew I was putting them on.
J began trying out his comedy skills at Atlanta-area clubs, and made his debut at the Comedy Act in 1990. A performance he gave at Zanie's in Mount Prospect, Illinois, was taped for broadcast on cable television's Showtime Comedy Club Network. After that, he never looked back and continued gaining success.
One factor in Arnez Js broad-based appeal was his avoidance of profanity in his shows, which attracted family-oriented fans of all races. Finding a more comfortable niche on programs like Black Entertainment Television's Comic View and becoming a finalist in the 1992 Bay Area Black Comedy Competition, he also began to appeal more and more to racially mixed audiences.
In 1995, he got a chance to combine his ambitions as an athlete and performer when he was recruited by scouts for the famed Harlem Globetrotters basketball team.
The year 1996 saw him joining the Harlem Globetrotters, but three months later a knee injury ended his Globetrotters career.
In the late 1990s, Arnez J became a familiar face on the comedy circuit and landed plum television spots on Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam, A&E's An Evening at the Improv, and Comedy Central's Make Me Laugh, among other shows.
As his career developed, he branched out into new activities. He performed as an opening act for the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, and toured with actor Billy Dee Williams in a play called The Maintenance Man.
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