Scott Shimamoto is a home mortgage consultant who describes himself as a “black man trapped inside an Asian, who grew up with Mexicans and is trying to make it in a white man’s world”.
Paula Johnson is a marketing consultant who has written more than 40 funny radio spots, and often infuses her client projects with humor.
Together they created The Joke Gym, an open mic night in Arcadia, California, that has presented more than 140 comics since February 2008. While both had experience planning special events, The Joke Gym is the first time either of them has managed an ongoing production. My thanks to them both for this email interview. (Photo by Two Story Building)
Tim O’Shea: Both of you started doing stand-up in 2007. What made you want to try comedy?
Paula Johnson: For me, it was an accident. I was in charge of the silent auction at charity event at The Ice House in Pasadena, California. I bid on lots of items to get the prices up. At the end of the evening, I was the winning bidder on a stand-up comedy class. It was kind of a shock because I assumed I’d be taking home a martini-making kit.
Scott Shimamoto: I was always the smallest kid in school, so it was either get my butt kicked by the big guys or make ’em laugh. It was much easier to make ’em laugh! Taking a comedy class was a natural next step.
Johnson: Scott and I met when we sat next to each other in class.
Shimamoto: In the front row, dead center.
Johnson: We both wanted to be the valedictorian—which they don’t actually have in stand-up school.