The talented J. Anthony Brown is well-known for his comedic side—performing stand-up at It’s Showtime at the Apollo and Def Jam, and guest starring on television shows like “The Parkers” and in films like “Drumline.” He even pumps out his wise-cracks as a radio personality on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. But Brown has much more of himself to give to the world. This entrepreneur has his own clothing line and store, and by the new year, he will have opened his very own comedy club/upscale restaurant.
To ask Brown about his beginnings is a bit of an odd question. He has divulged himself in a myriad of career opportunities, where does one begin? For Brown, he begins—and ends—with his passion.
He has a love for fashion designing that has never ceased since pursuing a career in comedy over 30 years ago. That love is what brought him from his hometown of Columbia, South Carolina to Denmark (he gives a slightly dramatic pause)... South Carolina. It was there that he intended to attend a fashion school of design on a grant but was short just a few hundred dollars for the required tuition.
“There was no way I was going back home to Columbia,” Brown recalled. “My family had given me a send-off party and everything, so I was not going back home like I was defeated.”
Instead, Brown stayed for some time and found a job as a tailor. He also decided to take a shot at comedy, walking into a comedy club one day to talk to the manager.
“I told him I had done stand-up before and he said he’d give me a shot,” chuckled Brown, who had actually never been on a stage before. “When I showed up that next day, I just bombed... and that’s the worst feeling in the world.”
Brown said he would equate that feeling to a death in the family, but it didn’t discourage him, nor did the fact that there were no Black comedy clubs at that time or Black comedians who were headlining shows.
“Comedy,” he explained, “is about mastering the ability to speak. If you can’t speak, you won’t be able to make people laugh.”
After recording himself talking, he realized what he needed to work on and for the next year, practice his speech is what he did. While sitting at home or at the tailor shop, he would just speak to himself aloud and if he something funny came out he would write it down while laughing.
His practice paid off, for when he took another chance at an Atlanta, Georgia comedy club he didn’t get the “gong.”
Brown explained, “I entered a gong show contest at Mr. V’s Figure Eight in Atlanta where, if the audience doesn’t like you, the gong is hit and you are gone.
“I didn’t win, but I didn’t get the gong. So I kept coming back and eventually the owner asked me to be the emcee.”
After several years of developing his talent, he made the move to Los Angeles, California. He landed several spots in various comedy clubs then found steady work for the next five years as a writer for the Arsenio Hall Show.
He also made his way over to television and film, guest starring in such productions as “Living Single” and “Parent Hood,” as well as “Mr. 3000” and “How to be a Player.”
He has since made his mark on the radio, being a regular radio personality on the Tom Joyner Morning Show for over a decade.
Getting an itch for more, Brown soon made his mark on the radio. It’s on this nationally-syndicated show that his voices his hilarious song parodies, including his first spoof of Brian McKnight’s “One Last Cry” entitled “One Last Fry” and his latest spoof of Hurricane Chris’ “A Bay Bay” entitled “Hey OJ.”
But never forgetting his love and passion for fashion, he has found time to design his very own J. Anthony Brown Clothing Collection, which is sold at his very own store, The J Spot at 5581 W. Manchester Ave. here in Los Angeles. Also, at the same location, he will be opening his own comedy club and upscale restaurant, The J Spot Comedy Club, at the start of the new year.
To add one more title to his professional life, he also considers himself an artist. Using bright colors of crayons and markers, and just about anything he can get his hands on, Brown has found another creative outlet to express himself.
The idea of becoming an artist hit him, like many other people, when he walked into a museum, looked at a painting and thought to himself, “I can do that.” So that’s just what he did. His pieces are now on display at the Los Angeles Sentinel.
For further information on J. Anthony Brown, visit www. janthonybrown.com.