For NBA Twitter’s Josiah Johnson, It’s All Jokes. Lots of Them.


WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. — Josiah Johnson crafts most of his jokes in a snug room tucked within the again of his Southern California house. There is not any advanced setup.

The room’s décor contains an array of sports activities books, shoe bins and a lightweight blue University of California, Los Angeles basketball chair from when he performed for the staff. A plump brown sofa takes up a lot of the house. Above it’s a portray of LeBron James in a Los Angeles Lakers jersey by Rod Benson, a former faculty basketball participant. A photograph of the deceased rapper Nipsey Hussle hangs over a mattress in a nook.

This is Johnson’s makeshift workplace, the place he posts most of the memes, humorous pictures and movies he makes use of to satirize present occasions in sports activities and popular culture. His comedic efforts have made him one of the preferred personalities on Twitter, with the deal with KingJosiah54.

Johnson considers himself a modest one-man social media firm, the place a lot of the work of watching dwell sports activities and posting about them is finished along with his toes propped up, iPhone in hand, comfortable T-shirt and shorts on.

“I just want no frills in how I operate and move,” Johnson, 39, mentioned. “At the end of the day, social is what the name implies — just being social. How would you talk to your friends normally? Would it be a whole elaborate setup? No. It’s just a phone wherever you’re at, and being able to use that technology to be able to communicate with the entire world.”

Anyone concerned in #NBATwitter — the neighborhood of hoops followers who have a good time, and argue about, basketball each day — has come throughout one of Johnson’s memes. He pokes enjoyable with references from films and TV exhibits, well-known and obscure. He has a eager potential to seek out humor in even the most serious situations, just like the vaccination status of Nets guard Kyrie Irving or the fraught relationship between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers.

“I’m getting some satire off in a way that they may laugh, but it’ll make them think as well,” Johnson mentioned.

Johnson, who’s Black, is aware of his jokes aren’t for everybody — and he doesn’t care. He usually pulls from components of Black tradition that haven’t been appropriated, and thus could sail over the heads of non-Black sports activities followers. Many of his memes are nuanced references to exhibits particular to his personal pursuits, just like the drama sequence “The Wire” or the sports activities film “White Men Can’t Jump” (his father, Marques Johnson, is within the film).

“I’ve just really built a devoted following with people that I’m super appreciative of that get the joke, too,” Josiah Johnson mentioned. “I’m almost 40 years old, so I do a lot of stuff from my lane. And that could be problematic for kids who are looking at me as an old geezer. They don’t get a lot of the references, so they don’t understand why people are laughing at them.”

Locker rooms and film units characterised Johnson’s youth.

He was a ahead at U.C.L.A. within the early 2000s on groups that included future N.B.A. gamers like Matt Barnes, Jason Kapono and Trevor Ariza.

Johnson at all times had a novel sense of humor and a giant, energetic character, although he might be reserved and virtually appear shy at instances, mentioned Steve Lavin, who coached Johnson at U.C.L.A. and is now a school basketball analyst. Lavin added that Johnson introduced an genuine lightheartedness to a high-pressured setting the place successful was anticipated.

“He doesn’t have to say anything,” Lavin mentioned. “It could be the expression on his face or knowing what he’s thinking. You could tell the mind was always at work.”

Johnson’s father additionally performed for U.C.L.A., underneath John Wooden within the Seventies, and spent over a decade within the N.B.A., largely with the Bucks and Clippers. The Johnsons had been shut with the household of Marques Johnson’s Clippers teammate, Norm Nixon, and Nixon’s spouse, the producer and choreographer Debbie Allen. So Johnson spent many afternoons on the set of the sitcom “A Different World,” which Allen produced. Johnson’s mom, Jocelyn, was an additional.

Those experiences nurtured Johnson’s love for leisure. He cocreated the Comedy Central animated sitcom “Legends of Chamberlain Heights,” which lasted two seasons. During the present, Johnson studied how packages like “South Park,” “Game of Thrones” and “Insecure” used social media to construct fan loyalty and adopted that system to amass practically 100,000 followers on the “Chamberlain Heights” social media web page. That was the impetus for producing his personal following of over 200,000 accounts throughout Twitter and Instagram.

His content material has caught the eye of everybody from athletes to filmmakers. LeBron James, whom Johnson has adopted carefully since studying that James sat in his U.C.L.A. chair throughout a 2003 highschool match, could also be one of Johnson’s greatest followers. He usually retweets Johnson’s jokes and has referred to him utilizing the goat emoji, an emblem of greatness. Johnson has one of James’s tweets to him printed out and positioned on a shelf.

In 2019, Johnson posted a meme representing the N.F.L. gamers Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon as two characters from the thriller “Get Out.” Jordan Peele, the movie’s creator, noticed the tweet and replied to it.

“You win, Josiah,” Peele wrote in a tweet that Johnson has printed on a T-shirt hanging in his closet.

“That really launched this thing to where it is,” Johnson mentioned. Peele adopted him on Twitter and the 2 communicated through direct messages. “I just thanked him so much for giving people like myself the opportunity to be successful,” Johnson mentioned, including later: “If I went to my agents and was like, ‘Get me a meeting with Jordan Peele,’ they’d laugh in my face. But if I put up a tweet that can get Jordan Peele’s attention. I can have him come to me. So that’s the thing that for social, that really kind of opened my eyes.”

Johnson’s social media content material has yielded quite a few outdoors alternatives, together with a podcast known as “Outta Pocket” that he co-hosts on Wave.television. He additionally has a writing function on the Netflix sequence “Colin in Black and White,” primarily based on the life of the previous N.F.L. quarterback Colin Kaepernick and produced by Kaepernick and the filmmaker Ava DuVernay.

Johnson’s ascension coincides with an increase of content material creators who submit on social media and earn money off practically each side of their lives. He mentioned he sees conditions “in meme form.” When one thing occurs in sports activities or popular culture, Johnson is aware of the place to look in his picture album with of a pair thousand clips and pictures.

“A lot of times, I’m like, ‘Damn, did I just see that?’” Johnson mentioned. “And it’s like, ‘Yep, I did, so everybody else did too. So I’ve got to get it out as fast as possible.’”

He has turn out to be often called a lot for his pace as his wit.

“Josiah Johnson is one of those folks that legitimately stopped the timeline,” mentioned TJ Adeshola, who leads the United States sports activities division at Twitter. “When Josiah has a tweet, it’s always timely. It’s always hilarious. It’s always at the perfect moment.”

Twitter has paired Johnson with manufacturers and pays him to make appearances on Twitter’s N.B.A. present known as “NBA Twitter Live,” which the social media firm hosts with Turner Sports.

The N.B.A., with its daring personalities and ensuing drama, is distinct amongst skilled sports activities leagues in the way in which it has cultivated a fan tradition that routinely births instant-classic comedic moments which can be broadly shared throughout social media.

“There’s always going to be something funny to pick up on,” mentioned Tyler Puryear, an in depth buddy of Johnson’s and one other common social media character. He is best identified by his Twitter deal with, DragonflyJonez, an homage to a personality on the ’90s sitcom “Martin.”

Like Johnson, Puryear gained notoriety by making enjoyable of virtually something, or anybody, within the N.B.A. information cycle. That comedic aspect, Puryear mentioned, places the game’s competitiveness in perspective.

“You can’t ever lose sight of the fact that it’s just a game. It’s just a sport,” he mentioned. “It’s a bunch of dudes in tank tops and shorts throwing a leather pouch at an aluminum ring.”

That view has made room for Johnson’s success.

“That’s where he’s masterful at this whole Twitter thing, is that he can reach a common ground and pull us in, and have us laugh there,” Puryear mentioned. “And I think that’s the best possible way to use Twitter.”