the biography of
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
When asked to write a biography for the artist we all know quite fondly as Keith Johnson, I was truly taken aback. I looked hard in the mirror. I questioned my years of work. Why? Why me? Riddled with self-doubt, I finally concluded that the only way to approach this moment was to dive in, head first. A true leap of faith. When opportunity (or in this case, Keith) calls… well, sometimes it doesn’t wait. But, as it so happens, Keith was waiting.
I gathered my belongings and ran to his next show. It was a race against time. But as fate would have it, I arrived just moments before Keith’s introduction.
Upon first impression, Keith stands tall, confident and reserved. Some may write him off as unapproachable. Not me. I saw a coy boy who's ready to become the next Stand-Up Comic Sensation.
The host of the show, Richard Pryor, introduces Keith warmly. Keith greets Pryor with direct eye contact and a benevolent handshake, placing his left hand confidently on Richard’s shoulder. It is a subtle gesture, reminiscent of something Former President Barack H. Obama might do when greeting foreign diplomats or highly respected Americans such as Michelle Obama, Young Jeezy, or Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Keith grabs the mic and takes a glance at the audience. He is still wearing his peacoat, a conscious fashion decision. He’s a stylish man, and he wants to the audience to know. A power move. The applause wanes, yet Keith remains silent. Is he nervous? Perhaps. But the audience doesn’t seem to mind. I soon realize I’m familiar with this type of pause. This is the same pause utilized by Sir Winston Churchill when stepping in to gain complete control of his constituents. Keith has a message to deliver. The people are at full attention-- they want to receive him. After what feels like a lifetime, Keith’s deeply spoken words pour over the crowd like warm, clarified butter. The entire room erupts with laughter and yearns for more. Keith is in total control, and we all feel safe.
After a groundbreaking set, I had a truly magical opportunity to drink some tea with Keith. He drinks a London Fog; an Earl Grey tea, steamed oat milk (Keith, a hero, tolerates many things, but dairy isn’t one of them) and 3 pumps of vanilla syrup. Keith sits with his legs crossed; a power position, and we discuss his origins. He’s from all over the place, but claims Florida and Washington DC his home(s). Keith very humbly informs me that he recently taped his first television appearance for Kevin Hart Presents: Hart of the City on Comedy Central (2019). I ask where I can catch him on these streets. He graciously informs me that he co-hosts a monthly show at The Hollywood Improv (Hollywood, CA) called ‘Good Friends Bad People’. He is working his way up the ranks within the Los Angeles Comedy Club Scene and is an unpaid regular at The Comedy Store. He has stolen hearts on stage at The Laughing Skull Comedy Festival (ATL), The San Francisco Comedy Competition, Underground Comedy Festival (DC) & The Westside Comedy Theatre's 8th Annual Stand Up Showdown.
I ask for more and he doesn't disappoint. Aside from stand up, Keith is creating, writing and voicing an Animated Series for Golf Media (Tyler, The Creator) called ‘Darius’. He also acts in a Mock Interview Series called ‘ Who TF is Darius?’ The guy even co- hosts a Podcast. It’s called ‘The Exit Strategy’ and boy is it good.
I look up at the clock, it’s 3:33 am. I'm a bit disappointed, I haven’t enjoyed myself like this in years. Quite suddenly, Keith gets up, smiles and exits. I wake up peacefully in my own bed. Was it all a dream?
Keith Johnson left me in a whirlwind. My life was changed for the better. I felt like I had, in one night, become my best self. Yet, I left this biography untouched. I was afraid to even attempt it. Afraid that I would not be able to do it the justice that it, and Keith, deserved. But I knew I had an obligation. Weeks went by, and I finally sat down in front of my typewriter. As I lifted my hands, fingers stretching towards their respective keys, I heard a knock at my door. A mailman, with an envelope. Before even opening it, I knew. It was Keith, thanking me for a wonderful evening. I stood in awe. The mailman winked, and left me in my doorway.
Wow. A man with a message. And just like his audiences, I was ready to receive.