An inspiration for his laughs comes from childhood family memories and friendly banter, mixed together with a desire for the bright lights.
Even at a young age, Detroit actor and entertainer M.J. Johnson knew he wanted to make people laugh and didn’t panic when a crowd full of eyes were all on him.
“My intention was never to be a standup comedian,” Johnson said. “I love to express myself through skits that rely on being witty and showcasing some creativity.”
Johnson can be considered his own Heinz 57 flavour, as he intertwines his unique mix of comedy and improvisation, along with acting since back in 2009.
This style comes through in his own innovative skits that he uploads on his social media platforms. The comedy parodies been inspired by his family members that have had an influence on him, to his love for movies from the 90s era.
When being reflective about his family, Johnson credits his uncles that always made things fun while he was growing up to his older brother, James Johnson III that included him on some fun nights out on the town.
“My older brother took me to see the Kings of Comedy when they came to the Detroit area, along with a few other different shows that I probably wasn’t supposed to be seeing at my age,” Johnson said. “With seven years separating us, it kind of worked to my advantage that he brought me with him. It gave me the opportunity to see these different entertainers, as I learned from their own personal styles to their stage presence.”
Johnson’s biggest highlight to date is when he had an acting role in the play “Church Girls.” The theatrical performance follows the life of Emily Franklin, a pastor’s daughter who is lured into a dangerous and fast-paced world that leads her away from the spiritual and virtuous lessons she has been taught since childhood.
The play featured a star studded line up Demetria McKinney, Angela Winbush, Karen Clark-Sheard, Robin Givens, Babylou.
There were many lessons and relationships that came from performing in the stage play while in Detroit, MI. Johnson was able to get some excellent on stage experience during the four shows and not to mention, some insightful advice through a heart to heart conversation with singer and songwriter Angela Winbush.
This was a special moment for Johnson, as Winbush, a well-respected recording artist that has sold over ten million albums and singles worldwide had taken the time to share some life advice with him.
When recalling the conversation, Johnson explained that she was very direct with her recommendation of being relevant in the acting industry.
She spelled things out to him quite bluntly, “if acting is what you want to do…baby, it is a dangerous game, but if you have your head on straight you will succeed and take it further,” Johnson said. “Her words, really helped put things in perspective, as I have tried to map out my career and audition for different roles.”
To stay fresh and work on his craft over the years, Johnson has taken both improv and acting classes to level up. He explained that these lessons have taught him different techniques, from how to cry on the spot to teaching him ways to perform in way that is out of his comfort zone for different roles.
During a regular week, Johnson has his own routine from keeping up on current events, to watching people interact in everyday life or utilize a dramatic part in an old movie to give him inspiration for creative ideas for social media post to express himself.
“When I come up with a new skit or idea, I want to leave an imprint on your mind that you want to come back again and find out what I’m up to. Honestly, I love to leave people intrigued,” Johnson said.
One of his most popular skits was when Johnson did his own testimonial for Frank’s RedHot Sauce when put the hot sauce on everything from a popsicle, to a plate of eggs, a pile of crackers and a couple other things. He even threw in one of actor and comedian John Witherspoon’s famous sayings for good measure.
Currently, Johnson continues to audition for acting opportunities virtually, stays active on his social media platforms and networks with different colleagues to keep in the loop of the other possible opportunities.