Review: Anjelah Johnson @Blaisdell

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Comedy1Anjelah (791x1024)Comic Anjelah Johnson performed twice in front of packed houses last night at the Blaisdell Concert Hall and while the energy was solid throughout, the biggest laughs were saved for last.

Walking on stage to “Treasure” by Bruno Mars, she opened with a nod to the pop star’s own concert next door by joking that she asked him on Twitter to perform a quick song during her show. She added the local flavor to her request by saying “If can, can” and then attempted more Pidgin humor by admitting how she always gets confused by how locals give directions.

After that brief, but welcome, opening about locals, she proceeded into her regular material which addressed topics ranging from her Mexican heritage and Puerto Rican in-laws to more mundane topics such as jury duty and the TV show “Law & Order.” The biggest laughs came when she did a quick bit about Filipinos, accompanied by a very good Filipino accent. While her material was consistently amusing and sometimes laugh out loud funny, it wasn’t strong enough to make you forget her two most famous characters – Bon Qui Qui (from a MadTV sketch) and Tammy from the Vietnamese nail salon. As a result, it felt like her material was a time filler as the audience anxiously waited for her to perform those bits.

Saving the best for last, she finally gave the audience what they wanted when she closed her act with Bon Qui Qui and Tammy. Unfortunately, this final act was brief and tainted by her hawking merchandise based on these characters including t-shirts and CDs. To her credit, she did introduce some new material featuring her dead-on Vietnamese accent with a bit about eating pho as the majority of the audience has probably memorized her nail salon routine, which has received millions of views on YouTube. But I aw left wondering if someone watching her show without having prior knowledge of Bon Qui Qui and Tammy could have truly appreciated her closing bits.

Johnson stated she will be back in Honolulu in the summer to attend a seminar. Let’s hope that gives her time to come with some fresh material.

Here’s my interview with Anjelah, done over the phone about a week before her Hawaii shows.