January 21, 2022

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For NBA Twitter's Josiah Johnson, It's All Jokes. A number of Them.

For NBA Twitter's Josiah Johnson, It's All Jokes. Lots of Them.

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. — Josiah Johnson crafts most of his jokes in a snug room tucked behind his Southern California dwelling. There isn’t a advanced setup.

The room’s décor contains an array of sports activities books, shoe packing containers and a light-weight blue College of California, Los Angeles basketball chair from when he performed for the workforce. A plump brown sofa takes up a lot of the area. Above it’s a portray of LeBron James in a Los Angeles Lakers jersey by Rod Benson, a former school basketball participant. A photograph of the deceased rapper Nipsey Hussle hangs over a mattress in a nook.

That is Johnson’s makeshift workplace, the place he posts many of the memes, humorous photos and movies he makes use of to satirize present occasions in sports activities and popular culture. His comedic efforts have made him some of the well-liked personalities on Twitter, with the deal with KingJosiah54.

Johnson considers himself a modest one-man social media firm, the place a lot of the work of watching stay sports activities and posting about them is finished along with his ft propped up, iPhone in hand, cozy T-shirt and shorts on.

“I simply need no frills in how I function and transfer,” Johnson, 39, mentioned. “On the finish of the day, social is what the identify implies — simply being social. How would you speak to your pals usually? Wouldn’t it be a complete elaborate setup? No. It’s only a telephone wherever you’re at, and having the ability to use that know-how to have the ability to talk with your complete world.”

Anybody concerned in #NBATwitter — the group of hoops followers who have a good time, and argue about, basketball every day — has come throughout one among Johnson’s memes. He pokes enjoyable with references from films and TV reveals, well-known and obscure. He has a eager skill to search out humor in even the most serious situations, just like the vaccination status of Nets guard Kyrie Irving or the fraught relationship between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers.

“I’m getting some satire off in a approach that they could giggle, however it’ll make them suppose as nicely,” Johnson mentioned.

Johnson, who’s Black, is aware of his jokes aren’t for everybody — and he doesn’t care. He usually pulls from components of Black tradition that haven’t been appropriated, and thus could sail over the heads of non-Black sports activities followers. Lots of his memes are nuanced references to reveals particular to his personal pursuits, just like the drama collection “The Wire” or the sports activities film “White Males Can’t Bounce” (his father, Marques Johnson, is within the film).

“I’ve simply actually constructed a loyal following with those who I’m tremendous appreciative of that get the joke, too,” Josiah Johnson mentioned. “I’m nearly 40 years outdated, so I do a number of stuff from my lane. And that might be problematic for teenagers who’re taking a look at me as an outdated geezer. They don’t get a number of the references, so that they don’t perceive why persons are laughing at them.”

Locker rooms and film units characterised Johnson’s youth.

He was a ahead at U.C.L.A. within the early 2000s on groups that included future N.B.A. gamers like Matt Barnes, Jason Kapono and Trevor Ariza.

Johnson at all times had a novel humorousness and an enormous, energetic persona, although he might be reserved and nearly appear shy at instances, mentioned Steve Lavin, who coached Johnson at U.C.L.A. and is now a university basketball analyst. Lavin added that Johnson introduced an genuine lightheartedness to a high-pressured atmosphere the place profitable was anticipated.

“He doesn’t should say something,” Lavin mentioned. “It might be the expression on his face or realizing what he’s considering. You can inform the thoughts was at all times at work.”

Johnson’s father additionally performed for U.C.L.A., underneath John Wood within the Seventies, and spent over a decade within the N.B.A., principally with the Bucks and Clippers. The Johnsons have been shut with the household of Marques Johnson’s Clippers teammate, Norm Nixon, and Nixon’s spouse, the producer and choreographer Debbie Allen. So Johnson spent many afternoons on the set of the sitcom “A Completely different World,” which Allen produced. Johnson’s mom, Jocelyn, was an additional.

These experiences nurtured Johnson’s love for leisure. He cocreated the Comedy Central animated sitcom “Legends of Chamberlain Heights,” which lasted two seasons. Throughout the present, Johnson studied how packages like “South Park,” “Recreation of Thrones” and “Insecure” used social media to construct fan loyalty and adopted that system to amass practically 100,000 followers on the “Chamberlain Heights” social media web page. That was the impetus for producing his personal following of over 200,000 accounts throughout Twitter and Instagram.

His content material has caught the eye of everybody from athletes to filmmakers. LeBron James, whom Johnson has adopted intently since studying that James sat in his U.C.L.A. chair throughout a 2003 highschool event, could also be one among Johnson’s greatest followers. He usually retweets Johnson’s jokes and has referred to him utilizing the goat emoji, a logo of greatness. Johnson has one among James’s tweets to him printed out and positioned on a shelf.

In 2019, Johnson posted a meme representing the N.F.L. gamers Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon as two characters from the thriller “Get Out.” Jordan Peele, the movie’s creator, noticed the tweet and replied to it.

“You win, Josiah,” Peele wrote in a tweet that Johnson has printed on a T-shirt hanging in his closet.

“That actually launched this factor to the place it’s,” Johnson mentioned. Peele adopted him on Twitter and the 2 communicated through direct messages. “I simply thanked him a lot for giving individuals like myself the chance to achieve success,” Johnson mentioned, including later: “If I went to my brokers and was like, ‘Get me a gathering with Jordan Peele,’ they’d giggle in my face. But when I put up a tweet that may get Jordan Peele’s consideration. I can have him come to me. In order that’s the factor that for social, that actually type of opened my eyes.”

Johnson’s social media content material has yielded quite a few outdoors alternatives, together with a podcast referred to as “Outta Pocket” that he co-hosts on Wave.television. He additionally has a writing position on the Netflix collection “Colin in Black and White,” based mostly on the lifetime of the previous N.F.L. quarterback Colin Kaepernick and produced by Kaepernick and the filmmaker Ava DuVernay.

Johnson’s ascension coincides with an increase of content creators who publish on social media and earn a living off practically each side of their lives. He mentioned he sees conditions “in meme kind.” When one thing occurs in sports activities or popular culture, Johnson is aware of the place to look in his picture album with of a pair thousand clips and pictures.

“Quite a lot of instances, I’m like, ‘Rattling, did I simply see that?’” Johnson mentioned. “And it’s like, ‘Yep, I did, so all people else did too. So I’ve acquired to get it out as quick as doable.’”

He has grow to be referred to as a lot for his velocity as his wit.

“Josiah Johnson is a kind of of us that legitimately stopped the timeline,” mentioned TJ Adeshola, who leads the USA sports activities division at Twitter. “When Josiah has a tweet, it’s at all times well timed. It’s at all times hilarious. It’s at all times on the good second.”

Twitter has paired Johnson with manufacturers and pays him to make appearances on Twitter’s N.B.A. present referred to as “NBA Twitter Reside,” which the social media firm hosts with Turner Sports activities.

The N.B.A., with its daring personalities and ensuing drama, is distinct amongst skilled sports activities leagues in the best way it has cultivated a fan tradition that routinely births instant-classic comedic moments which can be extensively shared throughout social media.

“There’s at all times going to be one thing humorous to select up on,” mentioned Tyler Puryear, a detailed buddy of Johnson’s and one other well-liked social media persona. He’s higher recognized by his Twitter deal with, DragonflyJonez, an homage to a personality on the ’90s sitcom “Martin.”

Like Johnson, Puryear gained notoriety by making enjoyable of virtually something, or anybody, within the N.B.A. information cycle. That comedic aspect, Puryear mentioned, places the game’s competitiveness in perspective.

“You’ll be able to’t ever lose sight of the truth that it’s only a recreation. It’s only a sport,” he mentioned. “It’s a bunch of dudes in tank tops and shorts throwing a leather-based pouch at an aluminum ring.”

That view has made room for Johnson’s success.

“That’s the place he’s masterful at this entire Twitter factor, is that he can attain a standard floor and pull us in, and have us giggle there,” Puryear mentioned. “And I believe that’s the absolute best approach to make use of Twitter.”

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