Walking Down Memory Lane (w/ Punkie Johnson)

Subscribe to Lemonada Premium for Bonus Content

We sat down with the hilarious standup comedian, actress and writer Punkie Johnson! We had an amazing conversation about the early days in Punkie’s career that ended with her sharing a story about a big comedy breakthrough she just had in Indiana. We also discuss a very specific Craigslist job interview and the science behind fake laughing. The biggest takeaway from this episode is that a giant brownie with two scoops of ice cream and hot fudge can still be a lil’ snack’ if you just believe it is.

Please note, Funny Cuz It’s True contains mature themes and may not be appropriate for all listeners.

Stay up to date with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @LemonadaMedia.

Joining Lemonada Premium is a great way to support our show and get bonus content. Subscribe today at bit.ly/lemonadapremium.

Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this show and all Lemonada shows: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors

You can find all show transcripts on the Funny Cuz It’s True page here.



Punkie Johnson, Elyse Myers

Elyse Myers  00:11

Okay, actually, can you just pretend that you’re listening to a fully complete theme song here? I got really in my head. And I tried to make it perfect, and I couldn’t. So this is going to be the theme song right here Hello, and welcome to another episode of Funny Cuz It’s True. I’m Elyse Myers. Today we sat down with the hilarious stand up comedian, actress and writer punky Johnson. We had an awesome conversation about the early days and funk his career that ended up with her sharing a story about a big comedy breakthrough that she just had in Indiana. The biggest takeaway from this episode though, is that a giant brownie with two scoops of ice cream and hot fudge can definitely still be a little snack if you just believe it is. So two things that are funny because they’re true. Number one, I discovered that punky and I are both former Payless kids, and she’s currently living her best shoe life as of right now. And number two punky is the definition of when preparation meets opportunity. All right, let’s get into it. punky punky Johnson. It is so good to meet you. I feel like I’m meeting a comedy hero of mine.

Punkie Johnson  02:40

Stop. No, I just be chillin. I will be doing a damn thing. I just be chillin and looking stupid all day.

Elyse Myers  02:48

Oh, I love it. I have a quick question for you. I heard that you are really into like daily affirmations. Is that true? Yes. Where did that start? And what kind of things do you like to affirm yourself with in the morning because I love that you’re so successful. And you’re still like, I got this. Like, what does that look like?

Punkie Johnson  03:02

Oh, it started because I’m lazy. That’s it. I kept telling myself two things. I’m lazy. I do not like waking up great. And I’m doing something I love. So I was just like, why am I sitting here? being pissed off that I get to go have fun for work. That’s I installed it.

Elyse Myers  03:21

That’s great perspective. Do you have a set list of things that you use when you affirm yourself? Or is it different every day?

Punkie Johnson  03:27

No, it’s the same every single day. So the way my affirmation started was first I’m lazy. I questioned myself about why I’m lazy. When I’m a lucky person. I get to go do what I love every day. And then I just one day, you know how your phone could hear you talking? Yeah. 100%. So my phone heard me talking. And it sent me a clip of Steve Harvey talking about waking up in the morning. And he said, instead of waking up saying, I’ve got to go to the gym, I gotta go to work. I’ve got to do this. I got to do that. He said wake up and say, I get to go to work. I get to see my family. I get to go to the gym. I get to eat healthy. So now I wake up and before I touch my phone, I say thank you guys into the universe. I smile. The first thing I do is smile because I’m like really if you want to wake up you got to wake up happy.

Elyse Myers  04:22

Oh my gosh, I love this. I’m like taking notes. This is so good for me.

Punkie Johnson  04:26

So I wake up and I smile and the crazy thing is smiling makes a big difference when I wake up. I don’t know how but it changes my mood instantly just smiling before I say anything.

Elyse Myers  04:38

There’s a lot of science behind that I went to college with a guy that was German and he had a therapist that told him to pretend laugh for 60 seconds. Like he started his therapy sessions by fake laughing for 60 seconds and it literally tricked his body into believing he was happy. And then he continued his day it was any made me do it like he made all of our friends Let’s do it. And we would like put, okay, this sounds so funny, but we would lay in a circle and put our heads like lay on our backs and put our heads on each other’s stomachs, like lay it like that. And we laugh, fake laugh and the bouncing is so weird, but the bouncing of the stomach and it like made all of us start to laugh for real. And then we would start our, like writing sessions or whatever. Because we felt like we were in this different place in the body physically like changes. I love that. Yeah, it can’t tell between fake and real emotion if you’re just telling it. What to feel in that crazy.

Punkie Johnson  05:33

No, no, it ain’t crazy. Now you go, you go ahead, be doing it. Good. Do it. I’m gonna start late. I’m gonna stop blessing our lesson. It’s better than a smile.

Elyse Myers  05:41

Yeah, well, even like when I film stuff, like on my own, I’m in a room alone, I will make myself fake laugh like that. It taught me so much to then when I go into something where I have to be up and I’m like, I just started, I’m not even happy. I just woke up, I will be in that place where I’m like, I’m happy now. Because I’ve made myself a lot. And I think about him all the time. He has no idea that I ever will think like this, but actually go think I’m actually. Okay, so I actually haven’t thanked him yet. But Josh, if you’re listening, thank you very much.

Punkie Johnson  06:10

That is the best thing I’ve heard just for mental preparation for a day. Because it works. It’s like I do a whole bunch of things that prepare me for what I’m about to do. Like before I go on stage, I stand in the superhero position really like a minute. Like before you do stand up before I just that before I do anything where I have to be brief, because I’m going in front of a bunch of people. And number one, I’m talking about gay stuff. Great. And number two, a woman in gray all know how to, you know, yeah, I think we’re beginning to be received very, very well in comedy. But it’s still that thing of Oh, it’s a female comic, you know what I’m saying? Totally. And I’m black, I got all these three strikes. So I’m just like, you know what superhero and go out there and I do it. And it’s crazy. That mental stuff. I was reading the story, I don’t even know if it’s true. I don’t know if it’s for relationships to be better with each other. But I read that this man had to mentally checked out with his wife and was divorcing home going to see someone else and his wife found out about it. And she asked him before you leave me pick me up like we like when we first got married and walk me through the door for 30 days. And after those 30 days, if you still want to leave, leave, and just him walking her through the door for 30 days straight. It brought back so many memories and just so many emotions of when they first met and he stayed, he ended up staying with her and falling back in love.

Elyse Myers  07:46

I don’t actually care if this story is real or not. I love it so much.

Punkie Johnson  07:51

So it’s just crazy that these little monotonous things that we do can actually help us in our relationships and our day to day operations. It’s it’s I love it.

Elyse Myers  08:00

And honestly, the body is so wild too. Especially with like writing or getting into character. Your body can trick your brain. I’ve been thinking so much about how smart and stupid our brains are. Because our brains are the thing telling our body what to do, but we’re telling our brains what to do. But like who is we in that? Do you know? I don’t know. I just think about that all the time.

Punkie Johnson  08:22

Oh my god, I do the same thing. I just will spiral What are you kidding me? It’s crazy. To just say anything. I’m like, who cares? Like even like with rules with people making up all these rules? And like who like who? It’s all man. Like so weird. It doesn’t matter.

Elyse Myers  08:38

I know, even when I’ve a two year old and I like I think the idea of of cussing is so funny because I grew up in a house where cussing was so so so like, Absolutely not. And I’m like just realizing there’s no adult there just made up words we decided we’re bad. And I’m trying to teach my son like some people might not be okay with it. But like, also it’s a word. And so it’s like how do we teach him to have this like neutral morality around words but then respect other people’s feelings about them so that he’s not in a place where he’s hurting other people but he’s also not hurting himself by having these like beliefs about things that are kind of just morally neutral. A lot of that is you need to write a book not on parenting for sure. Not on any of that but.

Punkie Johnson  09:23

As you go because that’s such a good idea because we you know, we raised to just pretty much be like don’t say that that’s a bad word.

Elyse Myers  09:29

Yeah. Is it is it or have we just added things to it that are bad that are like didn’t need to be there.

Punkie Johnson  09:35

That is brilliant. You should write a book because it sounds like you’re doing something different.

Elyse Myers  09:40

Thank you. I appreciate that. We’re trying

Punkie Johnson  09:42

because I got my mouth washed out with soap if I see that same.

Elyse Myers  09:46

I will never be able to use Neutrogena soap. Travel. My mom started with a hot sauce but I am obsessed with spicy food and after he got no reaction for me, I feel like I should have caught on and been like yeah, this you Ducks but no she caught it and I and then I started she started eating soap and I quickly learned about about not my entire pregnancy revolving around spicy food this time around. gonna I’m gonna work that out in therapy

Punkie Johnson  10:13

is zestfully clean for me zest that was a cheap pour soap anyway. No offense to people who use we couldn’t afford nothing Moses.

Elyse Myers  10:23

Never again. Are there things in your life now that you’re like you have had so much success in your career that you will buy because you couldn’t buy when you were younger? That you’re like getting those like small luxuries that you didn’t get when you were a kid. Do you do that? Shoes, shoes Okay any specific shoe or just like shoes?

Punkie Johnson  10:42

My mother would not buy me expensive shoes. We were Payless all day every day. Oh, same shoes. I love shoes. I will wear the same clothes every day. Same out I’ll change my underwear. I’ll change my brow change my socks. But these black jeans and this t shirt and I’ve been wearing the same hat for months. It’s thinks I love that. I don’t care what shoes. I could I could rock a different pair of shoes at least 150 days out the year.

Elyse Myers  11:12

Are you like sneakers loafers? Like what’s your go to style?

Punkie Johnson  11:16

So it all depends, right? So I’m starting to do a lot more I guess let’s say classy things. Sure. So I’m starting to buy a lot like Steve Madden’s and Cohens and I’m starting to learn. I don’t notice fashion, so that’s the only two I know I guess.

Elyse Myers  11:33

Oh my gosh, but I love that you’re getting into shoes. That makes me really happy for me. It’s a snacks OUR PANTRY will always have snacks. We were like an ingredient household snacks. Were a definite no, no. And now I’m like, I’m gonna have every single snack I possibly can buy even if I don’t like it. Because what if someone comes over and they like it? Yes. And they’re gonna go in and get a snack and it’s fine. It’s like that’s my favorite thing is food.

Punkie Johnson  11:59

Listen, I’m trying to stay away from snacks. We we’ve always had snacks in our house. Have Frezz Oreo cookies, vanilla Oreo cookies, goldfish, brownies, but my favorite snack is a brownie sundae. One scoop of vanilla. One scoop of chocolate. A big fat Moyse crunchy brownie. With so much hot fudge. I can drown in it.

Elyse Myers  12:29

I’m too pregnant for this conversation.

Punkie Johnson  12:32

Really all? I want to have a baby but I’m scared.

Elyse Myers  12:36

It’s okay to be scared. Honestly, I’m scared. I’ve done it once. And I’m still scared. And it’s a scary thing to make a whole person and it’s scary to know what they’re bringing them into. And if you’re going to do it, right and honestly, like, if you want to do it, you’ll figure it out. And it’s in. You’re a great you’d be a great mom, if you wanted to be.

Punkie Johnson  12:56

Oh girl. I don’t want to have a baby for motherhood. I want to have it just to be like the like Ali Wong and just walk around pregnant, do comedy pregnant? And just I want to do it for the experience.

Elyse Myers  13:10

I did not see that coming. Right. Okay, well, that is another reason to do.

Punkie Johnson  13:16

But I’m also scared because I’m scared for different reasons. Like I love liquor. I’m gonna have to stop drinking. Yeah, you know, I’m already pissed off because I’m on this new thing where I’m not drinking four days a week. So from Sunday to Thursday, I don’t drink okay. So I’m in more ways than one. I’m prepping my body. To be ready to go through the changes. I’m gonna have to make having a baby.

Elyse Myers  13:39

I’m proud of you. It’s hard. Honestly. I’m gonna be bringing a mini bottle of champagne to the hospital the moment I waited a while after my son and this pregnancy. I’m gonna bring a packet into my little hospital bag and be like, Yeah, you know what? This person is out of me. I’m drinking the champagne now. So it’s gonna be great.

Punkie Johnson  13:56

That’s gonna be great. I should come and have some would you were you in Los Angeles. I’m

Elyse Myers  13:59

in I’m in Omaha, Nebraska, if you want to come to I went because I was gonna ask is you’re in California right now. But you’re not from California, right?

Punkie Johnson  14:09

I live in a lot of places about I’m never in one place for more than a week. So like, California is in New York, Rhode Island, New Orleans because I’m working all the way everywhere. And sometimes it’s more convenient for me to leave tour and go home to New Orleans. Sometimes it’s more convenient for me to go to New York after touring. I mean, I get my mail in Jersey. If that if that makes any sense.

Elyse Myers  14:33

Honestly, I love are you you’re Are you from New Orleans? Yes. How is the comedy scene in New Orleans compared to other places? Is there a comedy scene?

Punkie Johnson  14:43

New Orleans is my place they my people but the comedy scene? It’s an unfair comparison. I mean, I’ve lived in New York and California.

Elyse Myers  14:51

Okay, you know, those are like the.

Punkie Johnson  14:54

It’s like top five. I mean, I think Top Five is like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago. I go Boston, Detroit, you know, New Orleans don’t probably not even in like the top 10.

Elyse Myers  15:06

No. Okay. And that’s why you moved here like i This isn’t the place to do comedy.

Punkie Johnson  15:10

Well, no I moved because I was stuck in my girlfriend.

Elyse Myers  15:13

Okay. I also did not see that coming.

Punkie Johnson  15:18

When she broke up with me for fun. I didn’t know how to be hurt. That was my first heartbreak.

Elyse Myers  15:25

Oh, tell me about that was Was that like a long term thing?

Punkie Johnson  15:28

We were together since we were kids. We were together. For at that time, about eight or nine years. Whoa, we were all we knew. And she was the first person to be honest and say, Look, you all I know, I need to go know other stuff. And I did not know how to be heartbroken.

Elyse Myers  15:44

So you moved to be where she was? No, we

Punkie Johnson  15:47

Weren’t in the same place. And I followed her around a bit. And then I had to snap out of it. I’m like, What are you doing? You can’t do that.

Elyse Myers  15:55

How did you snap out of that

Punkie Johnson 15:56

By saying Brad you have dreams and goals. Your dream and goal wasn’t to be with this. This this person? Like yeah, it’s a bonus. And we’re grateful but my dream and my goal was comedy and I needed that to push me to go to California

Elyse Myers  16:12

had it always been comedy. It was that since you were little was that your dream? All we really always always What about it inspired you to want to do that?

Punkie Johnson  16:21

Well, my family is very comedy oriented. Oh, okay, cool. My mother loves comedies. I was raised on watching nothing but comedy TV. Oh, wow. When I was old enough, I started watching Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby I don’t even know if I could still say his name was Eddie Murphy. And then Dave Chappelle came out with his I’m just like this is it for me. This is it. Wow.

Elyse Myers  16:49

Okay, we have to take a quick break when we come back here about how punky got started and stand up

Elyse Myers  17:02

listen, if you’re a new parent, even if you know someone who’s a new parent, I want to talk to you about Dreamland baby weighted swaddles Dreamland baby was started when the founder Tara tried just about everything to get her baby to sleep with no luck. She then designed a product of her own the iconic waited swaddle, she would go on to make a deal on Shark Tank, she was featured in Forbes, and she has helped over 500,000 families get more sleep since then. The award winning doctor approved dream weighted sleepsack is the only sleepsack that features cover calm technology, which evenly distributes weight from your baby’s shoulders to toes. That means deeper sleep for your baby and for you to the material is so high quality holding up after washing in the sack can be worn three ways. Plus it’s got that two way zipper that can be a lifesaver during diaper changes. Go to dreamland baby co.com and enter my code Elise at checkout to receive 20% off sitewide and free shipping. This offer is for new and existing customers. That’s Dreamland baby co.com and code Elyse at checkout for 20% off. Tractor drinks are certified organic, non GMO and made from sustainably sourced ingredients. With no artificial ingredients. No phony colors, no mystery preservatives or synthetic pesticides. They’re the drinks with nothing to hide. So as we all know, when we go out to eat, the clean beverage options are pretty limited. That’s why chapter beverage company is changing the restaurant drink options one cup at a time. Now you can enjoy the food you love with a drink that makes you feel good. I get really excited when I go to a restaurant and I see chapter beverages on the menu because not only do I like them, but my son Auguste really likes them. And so we get to like share the drink back and forth which is always really fun. Chapter comes in bold, refreshing flavors like berry patch, lemonade, strawberry, dragon fruit, Mandarin, cardamom, unsweet, tea and mango, as well as organic sodas like root beer, coconut and the cherry cream flavor is my absolute favorite. But everyone in my family has their own favorite pick. So next time you go out to eat definitely look for tractor on the menu. I promise once you try it, you won’t be able to go back chapter organically farmed beverages, find them at your favorite restaurant or go to drink tractor.com and find where tractor is available near you

Elyse Myers  19:23

did you have a plan or when you kind of snapped out of that realization with your girlfriend? You’re like, this is my dream. What did those next steps look like?

Punkie Johnson  19:31

You know what? The plan in general was to be a comedian. Right? I got this big plan with no steps to get there. Yeah. So I was like, You know what, I’m just gonna move to California. And I’m gonna go with a wind blow. And that’s basically what I did. And then I of course I needed a job. And I don’t know if this thing still exists, but I went on a little something called Craigslist.

Elyse Myers  19:58

Oh, yep, I got all my roommate’s from Craigslist.

Punkie Johnson  20:02

Oh my god. I went on Craigslist. And the Comedy Store was hiring. Oh, which I thought was a comic bookstore. Sure. So I was like, You know what? Comedy comic books, it’s all the same. So I go down to the Comedy Store. And it was a comedy club and I’m like, I’m walking in. I’m like, yo, this is crazy. I mean, it’s three big rooms. I was I’m still I’m still like speeches, obviously. As you can see, it is Robin Williams on a wall is Jay Leno on a wall is David Letterman on a wall. It’s every and I’m just like, This is crazy, though. You and I got the wind blew me to the Comedy Store

Elyse Myers  20:42

From Craigslist, when you thought it was a comic book store? Yeah, yeah. So did you just walk up to someone? You’re like, I want a job.

Punkie Johnson  20:51

No, no, it was 75 people in a room full interview. And what was the job? To be a waitress? Wow. Yeah. To work there. And everybody. I don’t know what’s going on in Los Angeles. But no one gets dressed for interviews, I guess. And everybody had on like a T shirt and a hat. I was the only one in a suit. I mean, I was looking casket shop.

Elyse Myers  21:13

I hadn’t really briefcase.

Punkie Johnson  21:15

I had a briefcase. I had a portfolio. I had nice shoes on, you know, and at this point they would they wanted waitresses. Yeah. So I completely did a 360 because, you know, I’m, I’m a tomboy, you know, I’m saying I’m Nike. So I put on earrings. makeup. I had someone do my hair off cute. So I’m walking in there all girly being somebody who I’m not. And I’m like, I’m gonna get this job. Yeah. And out of 75 people, I got the job.

Elyse Myers  21:44

It was you dressed up, you show them. I’m here. I’m not playing around. I want to take this seriously. And you got it.

Punkie Johnson  21:52

Yeah. And that’s how I started comedy. Because I was very scared. Honestly, if you want to be honest, which I was like, I’m never gonna get on that stage. I’m gonna just go to acting school and just do it through acting. But that’s when I was like, damn, 75 people, I’m never going to get this job. And that’s when I made a promise to myself. I’m like, Look, if you get this job, that means supposed to comedy. So if you get it, you have to do it,

Elyse Myers  22:11

Really? So when you got the job? How long did you serve as a waitress before? Like you ever hopped up on stage? Like, how did you even get on stage,

Punkie Johnson  22:20

I was a waitress for about. So I lied and told people I didn’t want to do comedy, wasn’t interested in it. And that turned around to bite me as because my whole goal was be here, study it, learn to politics. And then when you’re ready, let them know you’re interested in comedy.

Elyse Myers  22:39

So you didn’t plan on ever doing it? There? You were like, I’m just gonna receive here and then take that somewhere else.

Punkie Johnson  22:45

Right. Okay. But you know, comics were crazy. Yeah. And it looks like you’re playing with the craft is going to be a problem. Yeah. So when I when I started doing comedy, and let it be known to them that I wanted to do comedy. They were like, you only want to do it because you see it? No, you’re not a real comedian. So no.

Elyse Myers  23:03

Do you think that like, because you acted like you didn’t want to do it? They just thought you looked at the craft as it was too simple.

Punkie Johnson  23:09

Yeah, they were like, people come in and out here. They’d be waitresses, they’d be bartenders, and they want to try this. We’ve been working our butts off for this, you don’t get to just come here and jump on stage.

Elyse Myers  23:18

And so how did you prove yourself? And how did that first time on stage happen?

Punkie Johnson  23:24

You know what, when they wouldn’t let me on stage, I just hit open mics and all your bits, you know, like when you knew you start off doing three minutes. So I’m like, You know what, I’m just gonna go to all of these open mics at coffee shops and holes, a hole in the walls and bars and places where there’s nobody in the audience, where you have to pay $5 to perform and you got to buy a drink and food.

Elyse Myers  23:50

You’re like, it’s costing me so much money to work.

Punkie Johnson  23:54

And to work at this point, right. And I just practice I mean, I’m like, You know what, I’m about to get this three minutes so tight. And then they let me on stage. And I’m not gonna say I killed but I didn’t bomb. And from then on, this guy named Willie Hunter was just like, Good job. Good job, kid. Keep working. And then he just had my back. He just saw me continuously work in saw me doing open mics. And he just thought it had in my bag. So it only takes one person to have your back, you know?

Elyse Myers  24:29

And then did that translate to the Comedy Store? You ended up getting on stage there?

Punkie Johnson  24:32

Yeah, yes. But I still had to work for you know what, you know what his business is? It’s like, every time you reach a milestone, the work gets harder. Yeah. You know, so I start off doing these open mics, but now you gotta work to stay on. And as a person who worked at the Comedy Store, the privilege was you don’t have to sign up for the open mic. The privilege was working there and just getting on stage right. So now I’m sitting up here. Thank Can Oh, I don’t have to sign up for the open mic. You have somebody to come to Yeah, no, I’m serious. Let’s go there. Like, oh, no, baby. You got some sign enough to do.

Elyse Myers  25:07

Yeah. But there’s no free passes. It sounds like in this situation no free

Punkie Johnson  25:12

So for three months, I signed up. They didn’t let me up for my setup. No, I’m like, yo, what’s going on? Like workflow a baby. So I think after like six months, they let me up.

Elyse Myers  25:22

The amount of rejection. You have to be okay with experiencing in this business is so mind blowing. I’m like, I’m having a hard time understanding how people do it. What did that feel like that first time?

Punkie Johnson  25:33

I don’t know. I was scared. I don’t even think my heart was in my body. I can still feel that really? Yeah, I can still feel that I did this crazy bit of talking about my mom and how she raised me. And how one day I was watching this lifetime movie. And the little girl said to the mother, I hate you. And the mother came over and hugged her it was like, oh, no, baby. Don’t Don’t say that. I love you. And I tried that as a kid. Just to get some I’m just to get some empathy and sympathy from my mother. I was like, I hate you. But in that moment, I forgot I was a black child. It black moms don’t play that shit.

Elyse Myers  26:13

Empathy is not in that moment, I would imagine.

Punkie Johnson  26:17

And also, that was a Lifetime movie. And this is real life. Yeah, my mom was like, Oh, you hate me. Hmm. And she started running off how she played a bit like, you know, do you hate happy to build and

Elyse Myers  26:27

Someone gets possessed.

Punkie Johnson  26:33

So it was it was just like, oh, no, I just did that bit and it works.

Elyse Myers  26:41

Time for another break. When we come back. punky tells us about the first time she felt like she nailed it on stage. Do you remember like the first time whether it was at the Comedy Store or maybe one of your first like three minute spots? Do you remember the first big like laugh you got or maybe like a moment where you’re like I just I’m doing it right?

Punkie Johnson  29:27

Yeah, I remember that at that particular time. There was some type of reality TV show going on. And this was a time where I think the communists was going through its dark gear so it wasn’t as busy as it was when Mitzi Shore was there. So no one will be an audience but this particular time when I got this opportunity, it was so noticeable noticeable because they were filming some type of reality TV show so it was cameras everywhere. And it was sold out. It was packed. So Oh, when I got up there, and I did that joke, everyone saw it, because they were filming and everybody wants to be on TV. So everyone was in the room. So I think that’s how the seed was planted that, hey, maybe she does want to do comedy, because it wasn’t the best bid, but it wasn’t a trash bid. And usually for the open mic portion of the show, it doesn’t go well for new comedians. Because I was like out all day, they just want to put me up today.

Elyse Myers  30:27

It’s crazy that all of these moments in your career like Craigslist ads that you think you’re applying to a comic bookstore, and it’s actually a Comedy Store, and then you wind up getting this opportunity with cameras with this spot. You know, if you weren’t ready for that, that would have been wasted. It’s like, you know, when opportunity meets preparation, that kind of thing. It just sounds like that’s what continued to happen to you.

Punkie Johnson  30:49

I’m actually gonna do I have so much nostalgia right now. It’s crazy, because these are, I’m happy we talked about because these are things that you forget, Oh, totally, you know, I forgot I went through all of that stuff.

Elyse Myers  31:01

It I think to like, your job gets so muddy, which is a weird thing to say comedy, especially at your caliber, you’re doing so many things, you’re doing so many projects, you’re you’re writing for so many things in people and like, oftentimes, you can forget the beauty of like the simplicity of where you came from in this like three minutes set where you just wanted someone to give you a chance. And you’re like, I just want this chance for someone to take me seriously. And you get it and your whole life changes because you work so hard for it. Yeah. And sometimes you can kind of grow to resent how complicated it can feel when it shouldn’t be. It’s like, I just want to make people laugh. And I want to enjoy this thing that I love so much, just like with your affirmations. Like, I get to do this. And it like recalling those memories is so important. It just it brings you back to why you started.

Punkie Johnson  31:53

They brought me back to so much appreciation.

Elyse Myers  31:55

I love that.

Punkie Johnson  31:56

I have this friend, she’s a serious friend. Sometimes she’s still serious, I’d be like, I can’t talk to you today. That’s serious shit. But also, she sends me these things, you know, because sometimes I think about you know what, I would just be a bartender, I can’t do this.

Elyse Myers  32:11

I often fantasize about going back to being a server. And then I remember how much I hated being a server. So the Daydream doesn’t last long. But it is when I go too often.

Punkie Johnson  32:24

I can’t lie, like I’m blessed to be in his position. I’m blessed for this platform. But sometimes I just get so stressed out and she sends me these things of don’t forget these wall of the everything you want it. And the other day, something happened she sent me a text message and he said, Remember, he was a waitress, she was like that’s it Have a good day.

Elyse Myers  32:45

Oh my gosh. Like it’s so it makes me want to cry.

Punkie Johnson  32:49

Because I talked to her because I’d be so stressed out with with just work and just. And people also mean like if they don’t like your work, or if you do something crazy. They just on you on your side, why you got to take time out your day to come to my page and tell me something just so reckless and cruel. And I can’t say nothing back because I got a professional job now where I can’t act a fool. So I gotta keep all these feelings in when I want to curse people out and tell them meet me outside.

Elyse Myers  33:16

Hard, hard agree.

Punkie Johnson  33:19

You know what I’m saying? And then you know, you’re not, you know, I’m missing family events. And I’m missing my nieces and nephews grow up and they got it’s just a lot. It’s sometimes I get mad at myself. I’m like, you can vote that’s what you’re complaining about. You said up here, you can pay your bills you can afford to live you can people find you first class and your complaint. So now I’m talking to myself, and calling myself all kinds of dumb bitches. But it’s just, you know, it’s a fine line every day with you know, I’m either here, either there. I’m never in the middle. Really, I don’t know,

Elyse Myers  33:52

When things are really hard and you’re working in a project that’s new or that like it feels out of your depths like, how do you ground yourself in that project and kind of keep pushing forward to learn? Like, how do you stay grounded in that?

Punkie Johnson  34:05

I stay grounded in that by knowing what it feels like to have a breakthrough. Like you said, it got to come. Right. It’s like, if I’m working on this five minute bit, and I can’t find the funny in it. I can’t find the callbacks. I can’t find a lesson in it. I can’t find a punch line. When I finally get to live, I am overwhelmed with so much joy and happy like it was all worth it. Like I’ve been working on my special now for a year and a half. You know, it’s the first impression.

Elyse Myers  34:35

Yeah, you can’t redo it.

Punkie Johnson  34:37

No, I’ve been working on it. And I’ve been so unsatisfied. I’m just like, I can’t find what’s missing. And I just had the biggest breakthrough in Indiana and I’m like this is it. That the special is called traditional. I was in a marriage plan. I was a woman playing a man in a marriage because my wife He asked me for a traditional marriage. So now I know, this whole special is about all the gender roles. And all the things I tried to do that I was incapable of doing. But I tried anyway. And the title speaks for itself, the title of this special was called traditional. And I was like, that’s it. And now I get to fill in those holes. Because now it all makes sense to me now. And it came to me on stage Friday night, and I was like, I was shaking. I was like, I just, I just nailed it. And I just want this to be so special, something that men and women and people all can relate to. Because it’s not just about me being gay. It’s about me being somebody who I wasn’t in a marriage and losing myself. Wow. And ultimately losing my dad marriage.

Elyse Myers  35:51

Which in itself, that stuff isn’t funny, but finding the funny in it and allowing people to latch on to that and being like, look, I understand like, that’s not funny, but the the humanity and all of it kind of rises through and makes it funny. That’s like, yeah, so relatable. Yeah, I can’t wait to see it.

Punkie Johnson  36:09

I just got to fix a few more things. Make sure was tight because I want the jokes to come out. So I used to watch a lot of Steve Harvey. Yeah. And Steve Harvey used to say things like, five seconds, seven seconds, five seconds, seven seconds. So basically, I’ll set up a joke and four seconds at the fifth second, I’ll get a laugh. Next, next things that the joke up is six seconds at the seven second get a laugh. So we’ll get back into an hour of five seconds, seven seconds. That’s it?

Elyse Myers  36:40

That I have never ever ever heard any comedian formulate a laugh that way? Like because I don’t do stand up, right. So listening to you make this like formula. It just seems like such an anomaly to me. It is just smart in the way that you plan it out. And it takes so much preparation, but like, when it’s done so well, like you do it. It doesn’t sound that way. You know, yeah, it sounds like you just You’re making it up. You’re just pulling these stories out of your back pocket, and you hope it’s funny. And you’re like, No, I know, it’s funny. The amount of work that has to go into making something feel and sound and look effortless, will always be amazing to me. Is your hope to have your specialty something that another comedian studies to make? There’s great.

Punkie Johnson  37:27

I mean, I mean, absolutely. I mean, like if you want to look at it, I mean, but also we’re all learning from each other. So I think we pick like, my comedy is probably for me, I learned the best from Katt Williams. And I learned best from Kevin Hart. Not from Dave Chappelle, because he’s more of a political comedian. I’m not like that I go more on life experiences, family, kids, dating, I go mostly on that.

Elyse Myers  37:53

I like to hear that your input increases a lot when you’re feeling uninspired, because that’s how I am unknowingly, like, I find that when my output has to be really, really high, I feel like I don’t have time for input in terms of like, you know, content I’m consuming and inspiration. And I can feel like that’s when I get burnt out in what my job. And I’m, I have to force myself to distance myself from the output and the creativity, so that I can give myself a break, honestly, even if that’s going for walks or if that’s watching comedy and, and just having a special where I’m like, I’m not even going to study, I am literally just going to consider this for my own personal life with my husband or my friend or whatever. And then those moments where my brain is just off is when it happens. And I’m like, Oh, thank God. Like, I’m not bad at my job. I was just tired. You know, Einstein actually said that solutions to equations came to him when he was brushing his teeth, not when he was actually thinking about them. So there is like a lot of truth to this theory. I wanted to talk about your podcast love thing. Oh, yeah. Do you find that that’s a cool way for you to, like work things out on on air on your episodes? Like, do you find a lot of comedic inspiration from that? Or is that like a separate thing to kind of reset?

Punkie Johnson  39:14

And you know what truth be told? It is actually a good therapy that is helping me get through my divorce.

Elyse Myers  39:21

Honestly, I love that. Everyone needs that.

Punkie Johnson  39:24

You know when you go through a breakup, where I can’t speak for everybody else, but I know I’m going through this divorce without I’m divorced now it’s fine. But as I’m going through divorce, I’m pointing the finger you, you, you you you did it. She did this and I know nothing was my fault. Right, right. But as I go to therapy, and I do this podcast, all everything of the way that I mishandled my marriage is falling out. Wow. And I get to start accepting it and holding myself accountable. And I get to start working on it making sure I don’t make the same mistakes in my next relationship.

Elyse Myers  39:56

And you guys give relationship advice, right?

Punkie Johnson  39:59

Very unprofessional unsolicited.

Elyse Myers  40:03

Honestly, that’s that’s better advice with sometimes than anything else because it’s actual lived experience. Do you find pressure to make that podcast funny? Or do you feel like you’ll just let it be what it is?

Punkie Johnson  40:17

And let it be? You know why? Because I feel like forcing it. I feel like people can hear for us. I think for the first like, maybe two or three episodes, I was forcing it because I was scared and it was my first time.

Elyse Myers  40:30

Like I’m a comedian. People expect me to be funny.

Punkie Johnson  40:36

You’re right. But then after that, like maybe I think we’re on episode five or six. As I start writing stuff out and not just got talking points. I’m just like, we’re gonna talk about this, this this this this discuss.

Elyse Myers  40:51

wow. And do you find that released you to like, be more natural and give yourself it probably also helped you reflect more, because if you’re here, if you’re feeling like it’s helping you heal and grow, it leaves you space to do that in your episode 2, and you didn’t have that before us.

Punkie Johnson  41:10

And another thing I noticed with podcasting, you don’t have to rush it. No. And you can always take your time and process before you respond.

Elyse Myers  41:19

Yeah, I hope it’s like the most wildly successful podcasts and you’re like, I’m so busy with this. I can barely even do comedy. So I’m gonna do both punky this has been amazing. I’ve like just I could talk to you all day.

Punkie Johnson  41:31

Listen, you know, I’ve been doing a whole bunch of podcasts and no shades anybody. But I’ve actually just had so much fun just having this conversation with you. You took me back down memory lane so glad, and made me feel grateful to be doing comedy in a different type of way again, so thank you.

Elyse Myers  41:49

Okay, that’s it for my conversation with Punkie Johnson. Definitely check out her podcast love thing. And if you liked this show, give us a rating and a review. It helps more people find us all right, we back next week. Bye.

Elyse Myers  42:04

There’s more Funny Cuz It’s True with Lemonada Premium. Get access to all of Lemonada’s Premium content, including my five questions with Punkie Johnson coming out this Friday. Subscribe now and Apple podcasts.

Elyse Myers  42:16

Funny Cuz It’s True is a Lemonada Media and Powderkeg production. The show is produced by Claire Jones, Zoe Dennis and […], our associate producer is Tiffany Buoy. Rachel Neil is our senior director of new content and our VP of weekly production is Steve Nelson. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, Paul Feig, Laura Fisher, […] and me Elyse Myers. The show is mixed by Brian Castillo and Johnny Evans. Our theme song music was written by me and scored by Xander Singh.

Spoil Your Inbox

Pods, news, special deals… oh my.