Rapidly becoming one of the most talked about comedians, Arnez J's charisma and physical agility are unforgettable. His unparalleled form of physical comedy, strong on body language and animation, has been known to evoke standing ovations from crowds at the comedy clubs and concert halls he performs in across the country. Arnez was most recently seen as co-host of BET's signature standup comedy series "Comic View" for the show's 2002-2003 season. And last fall, Comedy Central premiered his ? hour comedy special "Comedy Central Presents: Arnez J." An audience favorite, Arnez's one-hour comedy special for BET was named one of the highest rated comedy special on the network. Arnez continues his success by constantly hitting top comedy clubs, universities and concert arenas across the country.
Arnez spent years working hard and dreaming of being a professional baseball player. He took a job working as a flight attendant between dreams and it was then that he realized he had the ability to keep the passengers and crew howling in their seats with his dead-on impressions. With some encouragement from friends, he made his first attempt at stand-up comedy. After that first night on stage, he knew what he wanted to do. He left his job with the airlines and made the decision to devote all of his time to a career in comedy.
The Harlem Globetrotters took notice of Arnez's very physical comedy routine at a local celebrity basketball game, and recruited the young comic. However, Arnez suffered a minor knee injury and it was then that he began seriously focusing on comedy, working the circuit in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. He quickly became one of "HOTLANTA's" funniest newcomers. A finalist in the 1992 "Bay Area Black Comedy Competition," Arnez was immediately noticed by the entertainment industry and was asked to make his first television appearance on Showtime's "Comedy Club Network." Numerous television appearances soon followed, including appearances on "The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show," "Louie Anderson's Comedy Showcase," Comedy Central's "Make Me Laugh," NBC's "Friday Night Videos," Russell Simmons' "Def Comedy Jam," his own BET "Comic View Grandstand ? Hour Special" and many others. He hasn't stopped since then.
In keeping with his plan, Arnez keeps up a dizzying pace performing for sold out crowds in clubs, colleges and concert halls across the country. He headlined two shows at the Best of the Uptown Comics program July 2002 at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, where to no one's surprise; he earned standing ovations each time. As one Houston Chronicle writer said after seeing him on stage: "Remember the name Arnez J."
Fulfilling one of his dreams to sing and dance on stage, Arnez most recently toured the country with the live stage production of The Maintenance Man. In addition, this past summer, Arnez filmed a movie role in the independent feature Up Against the 8-Ball.
Diverging from the hard-edged raunchy and streetwise observational styles of other contemporary African-American comedians, Arnez J offers comic routines reminiscent of an earlier era of comedy.
His improvisational comic style is primarily physical, with a strong reliance on impressions and exaggerations of familiar personalities.
"J is a whirling dervish on stage--he runs, jumps, spins, slides, slips, and mugs through a performance, acting out many of his bits while describing them," wrote Doug Kaufman in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
His 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. "There was never a nicer and funnier comedian to me than Carol Burnett," Arnez J explained to Daniel Neman of the Richmond Times Dispatch. "The Carol Burnett Show, to me, will never be replaced."
Arnez J has been close-mouthed about his age and, in recent years, about much of his background including his full name. But various media have given his name as Arnez Johnson, and the Times Dispatch reported that he was 12 years old when The Carol Burnett Show went off the air in 1978, which would place his birth date in the middle of the comedy golden age that shaped his own style.
Some newspapers reported that he was born in Atlanta, but he grew up in a military family and never called one place home for long. That fact, according to Arnez J, shaped his choice of career. "I think most people remember things beginning when they were seven," he told Neman. "But I remember things from when I was four, because when I was four I was in Germany, in Hannover. My father was in the military, and I remember he was in the field a lot. I think I was more of a studier of human nature."