How Josiah Johnson Grew to become the King of NBA Twitter Jokes

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

The room’s décor consists of an array of sports activities books, shoe bins and a lightweight blue College of California, Los Angeles basketball chair from when he performed for the group. 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 one of the vital common 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 dwell 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 discuss to your pals usually? Would it not be a complete elaborate setup? No. It’s only a cellphone wherever you’re at, and having the ability to use that expertise to have the ability to talk with the complete world.”

Anybody concerned in #NBATwitter — the neighborhood of hoops followers who have fun, and argue about, basketball each day — has come throughout one among Johnson’s memes. He pokes enjoyable with references from motion pictures and TV exhibits, well-known and obscure. He has a eager capability to seek 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 method that they could chuckle, but it surely’ll make them assume as effectively,” Johnson mentioned.

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

“I’ve simply actually constructed a loyal following with people who I’m tremendous appreciative of that get the joke, too,” Josiah Johnson mentioned. “I’m virtually 40 years previous, so I do a number of stuff from my lane. And that could possibly be problematic for youths who’re me as an previous 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 adolescence.

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 a giant, energetic persona, although he could possibly be reserved and virtually appear shy at occasions, mentioned Steve Lavin, who coached Johnson at U.C.L.A. and is now a school basketball analyst. Lavin added that Johnson introduced an genuine lightheartedness to a high-pressured surroundings the place profitable was anticipated.

“He doesn’t must say something,” Lavin mentioned. “It could possibly be the expression on his face or figuring out what he’s pondering. You may inform the thoughts was at all times at work.”

Johnson’s father additionally performed for U.C.L.A., underneath John Picket 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 Totally 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 method to amass almost 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 match, could also be one among Johnson’s greatest followers. He typically 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 by way of 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 chuckle 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 basically sort of opened my eyes.”

Johnson’s social media content material has yielded quite a few exterior alternatives, together with a podcast known as “Outta Pocket” that he co-hosts on Wave.television. He additionally has a writing position on the Netflix sequence “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 put up on social media and earn money off almost each facet of their lives. He mentioned he sees conditions “in meme type.” 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.

“A variety of occasions, 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 received to get it out as quick as doable.’”

He has turn out to be often known 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 america 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 excellent second.”

Twitter has paired Johnson with manufacturers and pays him to make appearances on Twitter’s N.B.A. present known as “NBA Twitter Dwell,” 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 are extensively shared throughout social media.

“There’s at all times going to be one thing humorous to choose up on,” mentioned Tyler Puryear, an in depth buddy of Johnson’s and one other common 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 ingredient, 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 complete Twitter factor, is that he can attain a typical floor and pull us in, and have us chuckle there,” Puryear mentioned. “And I feel that’s the very best method to make use of Twitter.”

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