Anjelah Johnson-Reyes Transcript

Clint Betts

Anjelah, it's so incredible to have you on this show, a bonafide celebrity you are. It's incredible.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Thank you. That's funny. Thank you.

Clint Betts

So, I want to talk to you about a lot of things and kind of your journey to where you are today, but maybe we start with your background, where you're from, where you grew up, and at what point did you realize, hey, I'm going to get into comedy?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Well, I didn't know comedy was going to be a thing in my life. I grew up in San Jose, California, very big Mexican American family, broken home, parents divorced when I was eight, bounced around to a bunch of different schools, was not a great student. And trying to dream for my life was kind of like, what are you going to do? So, there was a little piece of my heart that wanted to be an actress, but I wouldn't say it out loud because it was embarrassing because it was so far-fetched. I might as well say I want to be a princess when I grow up. You know what I mean?

Clint Betts

Yeah.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

So, it was embarrassing. So, I just tucked it away in my heart. And then I would go to the movies and I would be mad that I wasn't in it. I didn't know anything about how to be in it, but I would just look at it and be like, I could do that. If somebody told me how to do it, I bet you I could do that. I just didn't know how.

And then cut to a friend of mine moves to LA, and she's in a Ross commercial, she's in an NSYNC music video.

Clint Betts

Oh wow.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

And I'm like, oh my God, I know somebody famous. This is crazy. And I confided in her one day and was like, "Hey, I would love to move to LA and..." Actually, I didn't say move to LA. I just said, "I would love to do what you're doing." And then she said, "Well, if you ever move to LA, I will help you get started." And so now it was kind of moving from a far-fetched fantasy to an actual dream that I could hope for one day, because now I have somebody showing me a way, a path. And granted this path takes bravery in boldness because it means moving out of my mom's house, which is the only place I've ever lived in my life.

So, it's something I start thinking about. And then I ran into another friend who I hadn't seen in years, and she was a cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders. And she was like, "Hey, you should come and try out for the Raiderettes," and I was like, no, that's not really my thing. But then I started thinking about it and I was praying about it, I say, you know what, God, if the entertainment industry is for me, I'm going to use this as my sign and I'm going to go try out for the Oakland Raiders cheerleading squad. And if I make the squad, I'll use that as my sign and I'll do it for one year, and then I'll move to LA and I'll pursue my dreams to be an actress. But if I don't make the squad, I'm going to use it as my sign that the entertainment industry is not for me and I will cross it off my list.

So, I drove to Oakland by myself. There's about 700 girls at this audition. It was an open call audition. Anybody's welcome to come to this audition. And when you get there, you could tell anybody came to this audition. And I end up making the squad. And I remember the moment that they called my number, because every girl has a number that you audition with. I remember the moment that they called my number. I was sitting on the floor in this banquet room, like a reception. We had all finished doing our performances and everything.

And I remember sitting on the floor with a group of girls that I had met at the audition, and they called my number and I couldn't believe it. And my first thought that came into my mind was, "I'm going to be an actress."

Clint Betts

Oh wow.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

That was it. It had nothing to do with Oakland Raiders, had nothing to do with being a professional cheerleader. This was my sign. And I was like, oh my God, I'm going to be an actress. This is it. And so I cheered for one year. We went to the Super Bowl that year. And after the Super Bowl, I came home and packed up my room and I drove to Los Angeles.

And my friend kept her word and she showed me how to get started. And I started from the ground up. I started as an extra on FRIENDS. And I was just in the background at the coffee house, drinking coffee at Central Perk with Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox and all the guys, and I would just be in the back just sipping my coffee and having fake conversations.

And that was the beginning for me. And I got to take free class from all of those wonderful, talented actors who were the number one highest paid actors on television at the time.

Clint Betts

Yeah.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

That was the number one show at the time. So, I remember just taking that opportunity to watch and learn. I would watch how they would communicate with people, how they communicate with each other, how they communicate with the writers, how they find their mark, how they rehearse, how they're playful, how they're having fun, how they're taking it seriously, all the things. I remember just watching and learning and dreaming for the day that one day I would be in that position.

And that's kind of how I started. And standup was not even on my radar at all. It didn't come until later on. I had bounced around a little bit. I was an extra on this show. I was a stand-in on this show, and it was about 2006. I was a stand-in on a TV show. And at the same time, I was going to a church in Hollywood. And every Tuesday night, they would do a creative arts night at the church where they would offer free classes to anybody who goes to the church.

You can do a dance class, a singing class, an acting class, a production class. Any part of the entertainment industry that you wanted to be in, they were offering a free class because they know that most of the people at their church are in the entertainment industry somehow, or they want to be in some way.

Clint Betts

Yeah, what a cool church.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Yeah. So, I started going to this creative art site on Tuesdays. I was in the acting class and we would play improv games, and I would be funny in the improv games. And there was a comedian there and she saw me and she was like, "Hey, I'm going to be teaching a joke writing standup comedy class. Would you like to take my class?" And I was like, "I don't know, is it free?" And she was like, "Yeah." And I was like, "I guess." I had no desire to be a standup comedian. It was just a free class. So, I was like, "I guess, sure. Yeah, I'll take the class."

And one of the first jokes that I wrote in this free church class was the nail salon bit that ended up blowing up my spot on YouTube years later and catapulted my career into where it is today. And that is how I started my standup comedy career.

Clint Betts

How did you refine the nail salon bit over the years, from when I wrote it during that class to when it became seriously the most viral sensation for... I mean, I saw a million people in my life were sending me that, it felt like. How did you refine it? How did you work on that? How did you perfect it?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

When I first did the joke, it was really long, and I learned in comedy that you want to cut the fat, take out parts that are not necessary. And what I did in that joke, I had a callback, which was a term that I learned in my comedy class, a callback. And I would call back to a joke I did earlier. So, I wrote a joke about me being an extra on TV and how my parents were proud of me for... First, they didn't understand it, and then they were proud of me.

So, the joke is about being an extra. So then when I did the nail salon joke, that was my closer. In the joke, at the end where the nail lady is clearly talking about me in Vietnamese and I don't understand what she's saying, I'm on the phone with my mom and I'm telling her, "This lady's talking about me." And she goes, "Doesn't she know who you are? Why don't you show her what you can do?" And then I get up and I walk from one side of the stage to the next side of the stage and I'm showing her how I'm an extra on TV, which was a callback to what I did earlier as I walk across the stage showing what I do for a living. And that was how that joke used to end.

And over the years it was like, I don't think I need this anymore. I think it's just about the experience there.

Clint Betts

Where did you first perform standup comedy?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

My first, I mean, I think it was probably at a bar around town, Buzz Cafe, which was a coffee shop. They would host open mics on Tuesdays or something. So, probably somewhere in there for my class. For class, we had to show up at this open mic somewhere. But my first real show where it was our graduation from the class was on the Queen Mary, which is a docked ship in Long Beach and it's a big tourist attraction. So, they have murder mystery dinners and shows and things like that.

And so there was, at the time, a venue that they would use as a comedy club. And so that was my first big show. Yeah, my first big show was our graduation from the class. And so everybody had to invite 10 people to come, and so it was a nice warm room. Everybody knew we were just graduating from a comedy class and we weren't going to be Dave Chappelle out the gate. We're starting.

Clint Betts

How did you do?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

I was fantastic.

Clint Betts

Of course you were. That's awesome.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

This was just something I was doing for fun. So if I had been terrible at it, if I did my first show and it was not great, I would've never done it again—

Clint Betts

Yeah.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

... because it wasn't something I was aspiring to do. So if I was terrible, I'd be like, "Ooh, well, I tried that. That definitely wasn't for me," and then I'd move on. But I did really well. And I remember in the class, we all wrote material. We had assignments every week, like now you write a joke about your name, now write a joke about your family or whatever it was. And so at the end of the whole class, the teacher would pick everybody's five minute set that we were going to do for graduation. She would go through all your material you wrote for the whole class during however long. I think it was two months, the class.

She would go through all your material and she picks your five minutes, and that's what you perform at the final show. And at the final show she said, just do all your jokes, and I had 12 minutes of material. So, I was the only one in class that did 12 minutes because everything that I wrote in the class ended up working well. And she was like, "Just do all your jokes." And I was like, "Okay." And so I did all my jokes.

And then after that, I would go with the teacher to her shows that she had booked around town and I would kind of shadow her and see how it worked, going around town and doing sets. And when I would be there with her, she would tell the booker and be like, "Oh, she's a comic too. She has five minutes if you have time." And then I would get up on stage and usually do one of the jokes about my name, and then the nail salon bit. And then that nail salon bit just started blowing up and blowing up.

Clint Betts

That's incredible because we have this theory here at CEO.com that chances given are just as important as chances taken. And it sounds like this woman, your comedy teacher who took you around was somebody who really gave you a chance.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Clint Betts

What would you have us know about her, or what would you say about her as far as how she helped you and what that meant to your career?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Her name is Lisa Alvarado and she's still a comedian today. And she taught me basic techniques that I still use in joke writing today, that I still go back to, from the rule of three to reversals to imagine if and paint the picture. She taught me the fundamentals, and I'm grateful that I had the gift of comedic timing and writing to implement those rules into something creative and beautiful.

And not only that, she also taught us just etiquette on stage. When you walk on stage, you shake the host hand. Before you guys change places, you always shake hands. And she taught us how to adjust the microphone and how to hold the microphone. There were so many little things that you don't think are protocol in the art form, in the industry, but some people learn it the hard way when they go up and have an awkward transition with the host and they're like, "Oh, okay, it's your first time. It's fine." But we all came in knowing how this works because she taught us well.

Clint Betts

At what point did comedy seem like a viable career option? How much past the class did you start thinking, "Hey, this is something that I could do?"

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

So, I remember the day. It was during MySpace days—

Clint Betts

Oh wow.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Yeah. I don't know if any of your listeners are super young, but what MySpace is... No, I'm kidding. So, it was MySpace days. The nail salon video had already blown up. It was out there, people were starting to see it. I'm getting messages from all over the world on MySpace. "Hey, when are you coming to perform in Australia, the Philippines," fill in the blank. And I got a message from somebody that was like, "Hey, would you be willing to come perform at our holiday party?" And I was like, "Yeah, sounds great." And they're like, "Okay, it's a Mormon holiday party." And I was like, "Oh, well, I'm not Mormon." And they're like, "No, it's fine. You just have to work clean." And working clean means no cuss words, no sexual innuendos, just working family friendly.

Clint Betts

Right.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

And I was like, oh yeah, I can do that. Sure. So, I go to this event, their holiday party, and they actually are doing a comedy competition and they have 10 other comedians that they booked for that night. So, I did my set and I tied for first place with somebody else, so we split the winning money. I didn't even know there was money involved. We split the winning money. And I remember I won $600 that night.

Clint Betts

Oh wow.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

And that was the most money I had ever made at one time for doing jokes, for doing anything. I'd never made that much money in one day ever, let alone from doing my 10 minutes of telling jokes. And I remember when I got that $600 and I was driving home and I was like, you know what? Maybe I'll be a comedian. Maybe being an actress is fun and all, but if I can make $600, I think I might be a comedian.

And that's when it all changed for me. And that's when I started taking it more seriously and writing more jokes and taking more opportunities. When before, I was kind of fighting it. I was kind of like, oh no, I'm an actress. I'm just doing this for fun every now and then. At that point I was like, oh, let me write some more jokes just in case.

Clint Betts

Wait, did the nail salon bit blow up on MySpace or YouTube first?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

YouTube.

Clint Betts

Yeah. What was that? What was YouTube back then? Because now, it's a whole career. You can make a whole career out of being on YouTube—it doesn't seem like that was the case back then.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

I don't know. I don't even know when they started monetizing, to be honest.

Clint Betts

Yeah.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

But I will say that a lot of people think that I made a lot of money off this nail salon video, and they would ask me, "How do you go viral? How do you do this YouTube thing?" I still to this day do not know how. That video was posted by somebody else on someone else's YouTube.

Clint Betts

No way.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

So, what happened was—this is a lesson in contract signing, everyone—I was broke. I was not really taking this standup thing seriously. I got invited to perform at a show. And they said, "Hey, if you come do 10 minutes, we'll pay you 25 bucks." And I was like, "Hell yeah. That's like Top Ramen, Cheerios, and some gas money. Yes, I'm going to go get this $25." And then when I get there, we had to sign a contract because it was for Verizon Wireless cell phones at the time.

So the company wasn't Verizon that hired us. It was a production company who had it struck a deal with Verizon. So, this is during flip phone days, okay? So, it was like you could download a comedy clip on your phone for a dollar 99. For a dollar 99. You could pay that and you can watch some standup comedy clips. So, we get there, they pay us 25 bucks, and they're like, "Okay, yeah, your material will be on this Verizon thing." Great.

All of a sudden, this brand new thing called YouTube comes out. And who's going to pay a dollar 99 for a comedy clip when they could do the watch it for free on YouTube? So, what they did was they uploaded all of those clips to their YouTube channel. And then this was around the time when if somebody sent you an email at work and there was a video in the email, you definitely watched it because of the brand new thing to watch video in an email. And this is before it was a link you click on. It would just show up and there's a video right there in your email, and you're like, "What is this? Let's watch this video." So, it was perfect timing of a brand new way to share information, to share things and a funny, relatable joke. So, this joke went wild. It went viral. And it was all happening when YouTube was new, so it was still a brand new thing to be going viral.

And so I remember in a matter of a month, there were 4 million views on this video and so many people had seen it. Friends and family had seen it, and they would call me and be like, "I got an email at work today and it was a video of you. And they didn't even know that I'm related to you. They just sent it to me." That was the phone call that I was getting from people, like, "People that don't even know I know you are watching you." And it was like, whoa, this is crazy.

And so that's how it started going viral, but it was not even on my YouTube channel. I don't know how much money they made off of that video.

Clint Betts

Do you know whose YouTube? Do you know the person?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Yeah, it's a company.

Clint Betts

Interesting. Oh, interesting.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes :

Yeah. Yeah. I don't know if they're still—

Clint Betts

They're probably still making money off of it, honestly. It's probably still making money for them. So after this Mormon Christmas party, which is hilarious because I grew up in Utah, where you earn this $600, and on the ride home, you're like, all right, I could do this. This is a lot of money. I could be a comedian. Let's do this.

What happens next? What is life like as a working comic, going from town to town doing standup for these various comedy clubs? What's that like? And how do you get successful after that? Seems really hard.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

I learned very quickly that I was very blessed by having this YouTube video go viral. A lot of standup comedians will tell you that they opened for headliners for years and years and years before they ever got a shot at headlining. My story is very different and very unique. I only opened for three headliners, three times in my whole career before I started headlining myself, and it was because people were watching this video and they wanted to come see me. So, comedy clubs were noticing that people were paying money to come see me. So instead of having me open for this guy, they were like, let's just bring in her and do it that way. So, I only opened three times in my whole career.

Clint Betts

Incredible.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

And then I started headlining. And I learned a lot. I had to learn what it was like to be a touring comedian, let alone a headliner without responsibility, what it was like to do morning radio and go try to sell tickets for your show and promote, and how the payment scale works being a headliner and how comedy clubs take advantage of you. I definitely learned the hard way in a lot of areas, but I learned.

Clint Betts

How long did you do that for?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Touring?

Clint Betts

Yeah.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

I've been touring for over 15 years.

Clint Betts

Right. But I guess the question is to go deeper on there. At what point do you start thinking, "Hey, I have an hour, I'm going to put out a special," and that type of thing?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Oh, got it. So, again, it happened very quickly for me. Sometimes you'll see comics who are rocking the same hour for years and years. And I ended up writing about 45 minutes worth of material over the summer so that I could headline shows. Because what happened was I was headlining shows, but I only had my 15 minutes of material. So, what they would do is they would put up eight comedians ahead of me just to fill up the time of the show, and I would just close the show with 15 minutes.

And that's how it started. And so I would write more material, then I got to 25 minutes. So, now we don't need eight comics on the bill. Now, let's use four comics. And then I got to half hour, and then I got to 45 minutes, which was technically all I needed to headline, was my 45 minutes. And then once I got to an hour, I ended up getting my first hour special on Comedy Central, which even that in itself, again, my story's very unique and different.

And at the time, the way it worked on Comedy Central is you have to...They have a way of doing it. It's like your intro show, which is like you do 10 minutes on... God, what was it called at the time? I forget what it was called. So, I did my intro show where I did 10 minutes, and it's hosted by a major headliner. And my episode was hosted by Jeff Dunham.

Clint Betts

Oh, cool.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

And we filmed it in New York and it was great. And then from there, you usually would get a half hour special. You do a half hour special for Comedy Central. And then after that, if you're lucky, then you get an hour special. Well, what was happening is I already had my hour and I was already touring and selling out shows and selling out theaters, so my agents and manager ended up pitching me and securing me an hour special with Comedy Central before I even did a half hour special.

So, I'd only been doing standup comedy for four years and I got my hour special on Comedy Central. We filmed it in Houston, Texas, and it was incredible. And that was my first special in 2009, and I just finished my sixth hour special in Nashville this past October.

Clint Betts

That is incredible. What is someone like Mark Maron, who thinks you have to toil away for 20 years until you can be successful, how does someone like that feel about your story?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Well, they probably don't like it very much. And that was the thing that I had to work through, was I had to—

Clint Betts

I'm sure, yeah.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

... understand and realize that not everybody was a fan of my journey. Some comics were envious, some comics didn't believe it. It was just a fluke, whatever. So, I've gone through seasons of feeling like I needed to prove myself in the comedy world.

And then I realized that I was trying to prove myself to people who didn't care about me. They didn't support me or my career. The people who I needed to be working hard for were the fans who pay money to come to my show. So, I need to be working hard to impress them, not to impress those who want to be where I'm at. So, I know everybody has different opinions of what it takes to be successful or what it means even to be successful, and that's great because we all have to define success before we pursue it. Because if you don't, then you're just going to be searching and searching for years and years and nothing's ever going to satisfy.

So, I get it. We all have different ideas of what success means and what it looks like, and that's okay.

Clint Betts

Well, you certainly don't have to prove yourself now. I mean, six specials, doing it for as long as you have, I mean, you're one of the greats still touring today. It's unbelievable. What is the comedy community like? All of these communities, they talk about it as though it's this kind of fraternity and you have this special language or is this special way of communicating with each other? What is your take on that?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

I mean, it's different for everybody, I guess. I'm not one of the comics that grew up in the comedy store every weekend hanging out and making relationships and things like that. There was part of me that wished I did, but I was insecure, I had anxiety, and a lot of that kept me from hanging out at the comedy clubs. I was always insecure that people didn't like me because I rose so fast. And so I was like, "Oh, they don't like me. I'm not going to go..." Just projecting my own insecurities onto people. And then there was a part of me that when I would go to the clubs and hang out, I was genuinely uncomfortable. And I was like, "I don't like it here."

But I envied it. I wanted to be one of the comics that would hang out and vibe with each other. I wanted to be that. But I also found out too, because I started headlining very quickly, that when you're on the road so much, you're not really making friends in the comedy community because you're on your own tour. And so really, the only friends that I was making were the guys who were opening for me. Those were the friendships that I was making.

And then as years went on, you start meeting other headliners at different events or whatever. And I remember I got put on a show with Pablo Francisco and Gabriel Iglesias in Las Vegas and it was the three of us on that show, and that was the first time that I had met them. And people think like, "Oh,you're all friends. All the big comics know each other and they're all friends with each other." Not really. We rarely see each other because we're all on the road working, unless you are one of those comics who comes to hang out at the clubs.

Clint Betts

What is your take... And another kind of big talking point within the comedian community that I've sensed is this whole idea around free speech, free expression, you can't say things anymore, that type of thing. I'm sure you've heard that over and over again. What's your take on that?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

It's definitely different for everybody. And there are some comics out there that are like, "I don't care. I'm going to say whatever I want to say," and I admire that and I envy that. I think I care too much about what people think to have that mentality because the second I would get fallout, negative feedback, I'd be like, "Oh, this doesn't feel good. I don't like this." So, I envy those who have a fearlessness to them and are just like, "I'm going to say whatever. I feel like it." I definitely am at place in my writing where I double check what I'm saying and I'm like, "Okay, this brings true to me. Let me make sure I'm not crossing a line here," which to me, I don't love that. That's not a breeding ground for creativity, when you're constantly, "Is this okay? Is this okay?" You are creating with fear of being canceled.

So, it's not the best place for comedy, but I do find myself being in that place. But luckily for me, most of the material I write about is about me and my life and my family. So if somebody is offended by something that I'm saying, I can usually stand behind it because it's about me and it's my perspective on something I'm going through. So as long as I can sleep at night with a clear conscience that I'm writing out of love and joy and not trying to hurt someone, then if someone is hurt by something I said, I let them deal with that themselves because it's none of my business how they receive what I'm saying.

Clint Betts

Oh, that feels really healthy. It feels like a good way to go about it. What's your writing process like?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

It's different in different seasons, I would say. A lot of times I'll make note if I say something in conversation that's funny or I bring up a topic that is getting a lot of attention and we're starting a conversation about it. I'll make a note of it on my phone, or if I think of a story that happened. Whether it's in childhood or in my marriage last week, I'll write it down on my phone. And I like to relate and connect with people.

So, my goal is not just to make somebody laugh, but it's to connect with you on a human level. What is something that I go through that most likely you also go through as well? And I like to talk about those things to make the mundane topics funny based on my perspective and my personality and my delivery. Those types of things, I find engaging and funny because I like to look in the audience, and when I'm talking about something, I love to see people connect with it and they're like, "Oh my gosh, that's my husband. He does that," or "You're talking about my wife," and they all start pointing at each other. Or I'll be saying something, and then I'll see a wife look at her husband and I'm like, "Oh, I'm definitely hitting home with this one." So, I love to connect and relate with other human beings, and I feel like people leave my show feeling seen and heard in their own way, and having laughed and experienced joy.

Clint Betts

What is the business of comedy like? Because it's such a creative job where you're writing all the time, you're performing, and you're doing what you just described, really connecting with other human beings, but there's this whole business side of it that seems like a little bit not talked about as much.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

So, for me, I'm very lucky that I have a great team around me to help me with the business side of things so that I can focus on being the artist and being the writer and performer. But there are things that come with territory. One is press, morning radio. This year alone, I cannot tell you how many hours of morning radio I have done. We did, I think a hundred cities now. I don't remember how many cities we did. And we would block out days where I wake up at 6:00 AM.

Clint Betts

Oh geez.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

And I'm calling radio stations, every 15 minutes a new station until about 12 noon. And I'm calling to promote my shows, sell my tickets, sell my book, all the things that are happening. And every 15 minutes. I'm saying the same interview, the same thing, the same, "So, you're coming to Tulsa, tell us what we can expect." Boom. "So, you wrote this book, tell us what it's about." Boom. Every 15 minutes in a different city across the nation, I'm saying the same thing. I'm trying to get people to come to my show. And by the end of it, by the 12 noon interviews, I'm laying down, eyes closed and I'm like, "Yeah, I can't wait to see you guys. It's going to be great."

And I'm just like, oh my God. And hours, so many times we're doing press.

And then you get your numbers for your tickets and you're like, oh, tickets are still moving slow in Michigan and wherever. And it's like, all right, book more radio, let's do it. And that part of the business, people don't really see—

Clint Betts

Wow.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

... the waking up early to do all of that. And social media now is a business. You can't just post a picture of, "Hey, I'm coming to Tulsa on Tuesday" with a picture. Now, you got to be strategic about it. Now, you can't put words on a poster. Now, it has to do a reel. You got to do a video. You have to use a trending sound when you do the video. Otherwise, Instagram's not going to put it in that many people's feed, and you want people to see it. Also, if not enough people see it, we can boost it for this amount of money and show it to more people.

And then you got to make sure that when you say this, it's like social media in itself is a job. So, it's hard when your business is to write a joke and perform it well, but now you also have to be a social media influencer, you have to be a radio personality, you have to be a morning person and a night person. You have to be all the things in this business.

Clint Betts

Yeah, that's got to be the challenge, because you work late as a comedian, you're a standup comedian. And then you got to wake up super early and do these morning radio shows. It's fascinating to me actually that morning radio still moves tickets.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

It does.

Clint Betts

Wow.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

It's wild.

Clint Betts

That's interesting.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Yeah.

Clint Betts

What led you to write your book?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Well, okay, so I had a document on my computer for about 10 years, but the reason why I even started this document is because, like I said, in comedy we are taught to cut the fat. You want to get to your punchline as quick as possible. Take out the details. That's what that means. Cut the fat. Take out the details. Well, there were some stories that I had where every detail was important and I didn't want to cut the fat. So, I would try on stage doing standup, I would try telling the story and it wouldn't work. And I'd be like, okay, it won't work unless I cut this, this, and this. And I'm like, but people need to know about this, this, and this. It helps really paint the picture of where I was.

And so I'd be like, you know what? I'm going to save this story for a book one day. It doesn't work on stage, but it's worth telling, so I'm going to save it for a book. So, I started this document of stories that I would tell if I ever wrote a book, chapters that I would have if I ever wrote a book, what would my book be about, all of that. So, I had this document on my computer for about 10 years. And then during 2020 when we were all home, my agent called me and was like, "Hey, I think it's time for you to write a book." And I was like, "Yep, that feels right." And so we started from there. I had my document. And he was like, "All right, just think about what your chapters would be." I'm like, "I already got it. Here you go." And so that's how it started for me.

Clint Betts

That's unbelievable. That's very cool. And then promoting the book is the same thing, is just going around doing morning radio, social media? I can't imagine you do a book tour because you are already on tour, right?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Well, I combined it.

Clint Betts

I see.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

So, my book tour is my standup tour. It was the Who Do I Think I Am Tour based on my book, Who Do I Think I Am: Stories of Chola Wishes and Caviar Dreams. So,basically what it was is people could buy a book bundle ticket to my standup show, and you can come to my show and receive signed copy of my book. And I would do some stops at bookstores in certain cities and do appearances there.

But yeah, promoting the book, it is same, radio interviews, podcast interviews, lots of podcast interviews I did this year, and just trying to be creative with your social media stuff. What can I post that's not just, "Hey, get my book." How do we be creative with these posts? What's going to make people pause and actually watch the video? Stuff like that.

So again, you're using all parts of your brain just to tell people that you have a book. And then even when you do tell people that you have a book, two posts later, people are going to be like, "Oh my God, I didn't know you had a book. Where do I get it?"

Clint Betts

Who are some comedians you admire that are working today or even in the past?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Nate Bargatze.

Clint Betts

Nate's incredible.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

He used to open for me. And he is lovely, a wonderful, wonderful human being. And we've been to Guam together.

Clint Betts

Oh wow.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

I just have loved watching his career skyrocket, because if anybody deserves that, I would say it's Nate Bargatze, somebody who's genuinely talented, genuinely a good person with great character, a lovely human being. So, I love Nate Bargatze. I love my opener, Mal Hall is so talented. And he's been touring with me for years, and he just released a special on YouTube. And he's incredible. I enjoy him. My friend Joe Coy. I love watching him.

Clint Betts

Oh yeah.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

His meteoric rise is unreal and so beautiful to watch. Sebastian Maniscalco, incredible. Cristela Alonzo. I love watching Cristela. She makes me laugh. Not only just in her standup, but just having a conversation with her. We cannot have a conversation and not laugh. With me, if you get on the phone with me, we can have a conversation, none of us laughed because we're just talking about deep, real stuff. Within the first two sentences of a conversation with her, we're definitely laughing. And she's so lovely. Cristela Alonzo is fantastic. Iliza Shlesinger.

Clint Betts

Oh yeah.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Love Iliza. I remember I did New Faces in Montreal for Just For Laughs Festival in 2008. We were both brand new babies, and we did New Faces together. And look at us go, very proud.

Clint Betts

Finally, I'll let you go because I don't want to make this worse. You do so many of these, sounds like. Now I feel bad for taking your time.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Are you kidding? You're telling all your listeners about me.

Clint Betts

That's true. That's true. Finally, what advice would you have for up and coming comedians and what it takes to be successful, and just in general on what it takes to be successful?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

I always say do you and do you well. Don't try to be anybody else. Don't try to be the guy on stage before you. Just do you. What is your perspective? What is your point of view? Do you and do you well, show up for yourself to the best of your ability is my advice to anyone, whether you're trying to be a comic or whether you just trying to be a successful CEO of something. Do you. You're unique. There's only one you, so show up for yourself.

Clint Betts

I love it. And CEO.com is kind of this global brand, so it's watched by all sorts of people, but we're based in Utah. And you're coming to Utah in January, is that right?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Yes, I am. And I'll tell you this, Utah right now is the slowest selling city on the rest of my tour.

Clint Betts

Are you kidding?

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

So, if you are in Utah, I'm going to need you to go click on that link and get some tickets to my show, have seven or eight cities left on the rest of my tour, and it's like some of them sold out already, we're adding shows. And then here's Utah right here. They're like, "What's your name again? We're not sure. Hold on."

Clint Betts

Well, we'll change that. We'll sell it out now. This appearance will have done it, I promise.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Done. I knew there was a reason why I did this today.

Clint Betts

We'll do it. Anjelah, thank you so much for coming on. I'm so impressed with everything you've done. I encourage everyone to go check out your six specials, read your book. And if you're in Utah, as I am, make sure you check out Anjelah's show. Thank you so much.

Anjelah Johnson-Reyes

Thank you.

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