I met comedienne Anjelah Johnson during Katie Cazorla's Nail Files Season 2 Premiere. Although it’s been six years since she debuted her comedy sketch about her visit to a Vietnamese nail salon, a YouTube hit with over 30 million views on multiple fan-uploaded videos, I couldn’t help but ask her a couple of unprepared questions.
What inspired you to write a skit about the nail salon?
Anjelah grew up in San Jose where there is a large contingency of Vietnamese residents, had close friends who were Vietnamese, and frequented Vietnamese-owned nail salons. “Many of the phrases I use has either been said to me or to my friends. Since so many salons are Asian-owned, it’s relatable to others who’ve been to the salon who’ve been in similar situations,” she says. “It wasn’t meant to be mean-spirited, it was something I created from personal experience.”
In fact, her nail tech thought she looked like a “model, cheerleader, something pretty,” as described in her sketch. Her nail tech wasn’t far off. In 2002, Anjelah was an NFL cheerleader, part of the Oakland Raiderettes.
Although her comedy is not meant in ill will, she has received a number of death threats and hate mail. “It comes with the territory,” she says. Anjelah started stand-up comedy in 2005, with her nail salon sketch being one of her first comedy routines. She hopes to get into more television in the near future.
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