Words by Jenny Muniz
American actress and comic, Anjelah Johnson moves seamlessly from YouTube onto an Australian stage with her usual Latina gusto. For her Melbourne show, Anjelah leaves her emblematic, bitter single-girl musings at home, and ops for quips about her misadventures in Melbourne, newly married life, and her history on MADTv.
Performing in an unusually intimate venue, The Hifi on Swanston St, she quickly creates a symbiotic relationship with the audience. Together they resolve that the only thing Americans and Australians have in common is tomato sauce. Despite the perceived cultural differences, Anjelah delivers charming relatable jokes that keep the audience beaming.
She shares a couple of hilarious self-deprecating lines about her lack of good looks and her inability to be “fancaay” despite the enormous rock on her ring finger. She also whips out a couple of wisecracks about her Puerto Rican in-laws and Mexican heritage before going on to exhibit her first-rate beat boxing skills alongside her third-rate Spanish lyrics.
Although she lacks a strong narrative throughout her set, Anjelah brings back beloved characters she is known for. ‘Nail Salon’ worker Tammy makes an anticipated appearance, delivering the viral joke in unison with the audience. Turns out, it’s still as funny as ever. She also goes on to perform a new spin on her Vietnamese accent that the audience revels in. To top things off, she throws in a rap by her alter ego, disgruntled fast food employee Bon Qui Qui, which – albeit lip-synched – was met with a barrel of laughs.
The entire set remains good-natured and tasteful without angling on the prudish side. Staying true to her natural sass, Anjelah assures the audience her Christian roots don’t keep her from slapping a hoe – in the name of Jesus! Anjelah successfully weaves together charming anecdotes with appearances by our beloved characters and delivers a brand of comedy that is relevant, honest, and charming.
Anjela Johnson is on appearing as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival at The Hi-fi from 28 March to 6 April.