Anjelah Johnson and Jo Koy at the State Theatre: Fun nostalgia, flat jokes


Anjelah Johnson and Jo Koy’s BFF Tour, which stopped at the State Theatre on October 5, was a proverbial blast from the past for oldsters who were kickin’ it live at nightspots in the 90s. Regrettably, this reviewer missed that radio-listening era. It came after my time (my thing was the 60s, pretty much skipping over disco, dropping back in for the 80s). Still, I was at least familiar enough with the music to have a nice time at the show.

The success of the show, to tell the truth, owed more to the music and Anjelah Johnson’s dance moves—she was fluid as water—than it did to either performer’s comedic abilities. I’m sorry, but they couldn’t entertain in anyone’s living room, let alone a big-time venue. The music, though, was bangin’. DJ John Magic isn’t a lot about which to get excited, doing some sorry scratching. He does, however, have a good library, from which he pulled several great memories that time after time drew cheers and yells from the 40-to-50ish crowd of ecstatic women reliving their once-upon-a-time years of clubbing.

A few times the performers brought individual audience members up on stage to assess whether still had it on the dance floor. The impromptu revelers were sharp, three for three—each one cheered on by the those in the house—with a whole lot of shakin’ definitely goin’ on, doing dances like The Y and Cabbage Patch.

The musical selections ran a wide range. Of course, it was impossible for the DJ to get everybody’s favorites in, but there were sounds from the Backstreet Boys, Whitney Houston, MC Hammer, and a bunch more. The opener Rahn Hortman was, ironically, was much funnier than the headliners. He got in several good ones about being East Indian and frequently mistaken for Arab. And, accordingly, told of having some interesting experiences with passengers on airplanes freaking out over whether he might be a terrorist.

Anjelah Johnson has a reasonably sound reputation for working the big time. The former NFL cheerleader, in addition to doing some acting, is best known for her stint as a recurring cast member on MADtv. Jo Koy, when not doing stand-up, is often a panelist on E!’s late night show Chelsea Lately. This is a pretty good gimmick they’ve got for themselves, touring nostalgia around the country. One thing for sure, the nostalgia’s a hell of a lot better than their jokes.

Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.