Comedian Arnez J can’t forget his first time doing standup.
“I got booed,” he remembered. But he didn’t let that stop him.
“I knew I had to put in work because I knew that’s where I belonged,” he said.
Others knew he belonged there too. Before his first standup gig, he was a flight attendant and passengers told him he needed to be on stage.
He listened and is now reaping the benefits.
Arnez J will perform at The StarDome Comedy Club in Hoover this weekend. He is no stranger to the club, having performed there for more than 12 years.
“Performing at the StarDome is different but it’s a great connection between fans out of Birmingham and Alabama and myself, so if they keep asking, I’m going to keep coming,” he said.
As a child, Arnez thought he would be a baseball player, but said everything has always been about the next step.
“It’s always been about what’s the next step to make money,” he said. “What does God have planned for me? That’s why it was easy to make the transition from flying to comedy because I knew what was next.”
He started standup in 1994. Though he got booed that first night in an Atlanta club he worked his way up to HBO’s Def Comedy Jam. “To get on Def Comedy Jam was like you got an Academy Award, it was that big,” he said.
Being on Def Comedy Jam, Arnez got to meet other comedians like Steve Harvey, Jamie Foxx and, previous host and one of his inspirations, Martin Lawrence. Though he has never met them, Arnez said Jim Carrey and Carol Burnett are some of his other comedic inspirations.
“I remember I auditioned for a television show she was supposed to be on and I wanted that part, I wanted it bad, but I didn’t get it,” he said.
Despite not being able to meet some of his comedic idols, he did get to meet another legend: Prince.
Arnez toured with Prince, which he said was humbling and eye opening.
“I looked at him and was like, ‘I ain’t doing nothing,’ I couldn’t walk in his shoes if I tried,” he said. “But don’t look Prince in his eyes, because if you look him in his eyes, he got you, male or female.”
Prince died April 21, 2016 of an accidental overdose of fentanyl at 57. It came as a shock for Arnez.
“It didn’t make me go into a depression but it did have that wow affect, like, ‘is this real?’” he said. “We lost another great one, not a good one, but a great one.”
Arnez was featured on “All Star Comedy Jam: Live from South Beach” in 2009 and released his own comedy special in 2013, “Racially Motivated,” which touched on racial stereotypes. One of his audience’s favorite routines is when he talks about his brother Rodney, who is handicapped “but pure evil.”
“I try not to talk about him, but people won’t let me get away from him so I have to do what makes my fans happy and try to make it as funny as when I first did it,” he said.
Fans can expect to hear about Rodney as well as other topics this weekend at the StarDome.
“I’m where I’m at now and it’s a beautiful thing,” he said. “My fans are beautiful. I wouldn’t trade my fans for the world, they’re personal to me.”
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Comedian Arnez J got booed during his first standup. He rebounded nicely.