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Helpful hilarity: Comedian Joyelle Nicole Johnson finds healing in laughter

MORGANTOWN — The last year has proven that comedy isn’t always the best medicine, but for Joyelle Nicole Johnson, performing this Sunday, Aug. 1 at 123 Pleasant Street, comedy is a form of healing.

“My biological father’s a doctor and my mother’s a nurse, and I thought I wanted to be a doctor because my mind state was I wanted to heal people, but my actual state was I didn’t want to do that much schooling,” Johnson said. “I realized I was more of an entertainer, and I could heal people in a different way.”

Johnson, who traded a cramped New York City apartment for the relative sprawl of Atlanta during the pandemic, was all too eager to deliver some relief via humor over the past year.

“I realized even with Zoom people were craving laughter and craving the ability to be able to think outside of their own heads,” Johnson said, recalling people who took the time to thank her even after the digital strangeness of online-only shows.

“I think we need laughter more than ever now,” she said. Although glad for the opportunity and unique challenge streaming comedy sets brought, Johnson is gratified to be back to live shows.

 “I realized I will never take the live stage for granted ever again.”

Now, with live performances back, Johnson is pushing herself to new levels. In May, she made her “Tonight Show” debut and is now touring the country to hone an hour-long show.

“On the road … you can flex your muscles and do longer sets. You need to get used to talking for 45 minutes. That’s been the interesting part for me. I haven’t done that in over a year.”

Johnson’s comedy often draws from crazy situations in her own life, but she also understands that feeling safe and secure benefits everyone at a comedy show.

“Get therapy and get vaccinated,” she said. “That’s my general vibe right now.”

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