Comedy ‘n’ soul in NYC
David Goodson | 3/23/2017, 11:19 a.m.
While the ’90s were viewed by many as a high-water mark in Black music, Black comedians were also beginning to find traction in the marketplace. For many in that era, it was either on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam or on BET’s Comic View where they copped that first hit of Arnez J., and from the jump we knew he was a special standup comic. The timely gestures augmented his pristine abilities to relay a story, coupled with southern sensibilities and slight drawl instantly, and he resonated to quite a few heads. If a ranking system for comedians existed, he would be a consensus top-10 talent, and to many a top-5 even.
That kind of admiration breeds a certain expectation level of success. Sold out concert venues, sitcoms and eventually movie stardom is the tried and true blue print. So far that level of success has been beyond his grasp. With that kind of talent, the expected question surfaces: Why? Is it external? “The endeavors we go through in this system, is reflected in the industry, and in both we do it to each other,” said Arnez J. “No matter how far you go or have gotten in this business, you’ve got to stay humble. Sometimes they look at that as weakness, and I’m a one-man army if I feel I’m disrespected.”
Having that sense of self-worth reveals principles and priorities, one of which is family. “In this business, I grew into manhood,” he shared. “I had to balance being a husband—we’ve been together for 28 years—and a father to a son who’s about to cross that threshold.”
More importantly, it’s his spirituality that keeps him rooted. “To hear God tell you, ‘It’s OK! I got you, but I’m going to need you to do right with what I gave you,’ is all I need,” he affirmed. At times his narratives may journey to the risqué, sprinkled with some profane language that some may view as a contradiction, but as Arnez J. sees it: “If I call myself a man of God, my belief has got to be stronger then my material.”
Living life and steadily working on his craft, Arnez J. is keeping his sword sharpened as he prepares for the impending success his talents warrant. In 2013 his comedy special “Racially Motivated,” was critically hailed and widely viewed, and now he readies himself for its follow-up, tentatively titled “Everything Is Funny Until I Get to Your Race.”
In the immediate future, April 1 to be exact, Arnez J. is a featured comedian scheduled to perform at the Theater at Madison Square Garden as part of Emmis Communications (WBLS and Hot 97) “April Fools’ Day Comedy Show.”
VP/GM of Emmis Charlie Morgan said, “‘The April Fools’ Day Comedy Show has been a staple event for Emmis/New York for over 10 years. With a line-up that embodies the WBLS audience so well, it was only fitting that the station take over hosting the event from sister-station HOT 97. One of the strongest things our stations and comedy have in common is that both are cross-generational and appeal to the masses. We look forward to welcoming more of the WBLS audience to the show, and happily invite back HOT 97’s fans to enjoy a night out.”