Josh Johnson is an Emmy-nominated writer, a stand-up comedian and is currently applying his creative talents at “The Daily Show.”
Sure, he’s got all the accolades now, but the Louisiana native started chasing his dream post-college after moving to Chicago.
There, he slept on couches and worked at grocery stores.
But he has an interesting perspective on his early days.
On this week’s “Renaissance Man,” Josh told me that if you aren’t used to having creature comforts, “you don’t actually know the difference.
“Like when someone’s broke, they’re not like, ‘Oh, I’m out here grinding.’ They’re just like, ‘You know, this is the most comfortable couch I’ve been on.’”
Josh’s perspective was “I’m here and I’m having fun and I’m meeting funny people,” he said.
“So yeah, maybe the cost of doing it is sleeping on some couches or sleeping on the floor. Or if I have to, paying this $19 bus ticket that’s $19 because it’s 19 hours.
“But I think as long as it’s in pursuit of something that you love, it’s a small price to pay.”
Growing up, Josh watched funnymen Christopher Titus and Bill Burr, and credited Richard Pryor and George Carlin as his Top 2 most influential comedians.
But he didn’t think it was a career option.
“When you’re little, in your head, you’re like, any adult with a job is especially made for that job,” he said.
“You think of teachers as like, ‘That’s just the person who knew all the math. So she teaches math,’ you know?
“And if you saw a pilot, you were like, ‘Oh, that’s a special guy that knows how to fly.’ You forget that every person is just regular.”
Well, he’s barely into his 30s, and he’s flying himself.
Most recently, he released “Up Here Killing Myself,” a stand-up special now streaming on Peacock.
It’s based on the real experiences he had in therapy.
Josh hasn’t had a chance to rehash it with his therapist yet, but he did share some scary stories about the occupational hazards for comedians — specifically bombing onstage.
“When you’re bombing, you’re not really thinking about improving. Like when you’re in the middle of battle, you’re not like, ‘How am I going to use this to turn everything around?’
“You’re more just like, ‘Oh, my, this is horrible. This is really bad. They hate me.’”
He explained that sometimes bombing is a result of other factors completely beyond your control.
Josh recalled doing a comedy festival in New Orleans where he was supposed to go onstage first. But another name was called — and the whole night blew up.
That performer “bombed so bad that half the audience left,” Josh said.
“And then I go up and, doing what I think any comic would do, I roasted him a little bit for being so bad.
“I wasn’t even that mean. I just lightly was like, ‘OK, wow. You know, that’s, that’s kind of crazy. I’ve never seen a half-the-room walk before.’ And I think I said two things about him. Like, not even going after this guy.
“But it turns out everyone that stayed were his friends. And so then I bombed. But it’s like, I didn’t even deserve to.
“Everyone else hated his comedy. So they left. And then they hated me for mentioning how much everyone hated his comedy.
“So, you know, it didn’t really give me any courage. There was no silver lining. That was just a horrible night. But you move on.”
And I’m going to guess some interactions soften the blow from the bad ones.
“One time I did a show and Bob Odenkirk was there,” Josh said of the legendary sketch comedian-turned-dramatic actor (starring as the titular “Better Call Saul”).
“He was like, ‘That was really, really great’ … He was just so complimentary and it was so genuine that it took me aback.”
“I still think about it sometimes,” Josh added, “because it was just very cool to know, OK, I’m on the right track doing the right things.”
Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan’s iconoclastic Fab Five, who shook up the college hoops world in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA before transitioning into a media personality. Rose is an analyst for “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up,” and co-host of “Jalen & Jacoby.” He executive-produced “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the author of the best-selling book “Got To Give the People What They Want,” a fashion tastemaker and co-founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter school in his hometown.