Nutty in north Sac

Open-mic comedy comes to the Stoney Inn

His three personalities onstage: hood, professional and silly.

His three personalities onstage: hood, professional and silly.

photo illustration by William Leung

Tristan Johnson presents Nutty Mondays open-mic and comedy showcase; 8 p.m. Monday with sign-up at 7:30 p.m.; $3 cover plus food and drink specials; Stoney Inn, 1320 Del Paso Boulevard; (916) 519-7350;

Stoney Inn/Rockin’ Rodeo

1320 Del Paso Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95815

(916) 927-6023

Tristan Johnson doesn’t actually perform comedy. He only stands onstage because the temp agency sent him.

At least that’s what he says when he hosts the Stoney Inn’s Nutty Mondays, an open-mic night for emerging comics. Johnson started performing comedy two years ago and was instantly smitten with the mic. He’s gone from his beginnings as a street kid in Oakland to moving to Sacramento and driving a truck, and now emcees an open-mic comedy night in north Sacramento.

“I knew that I always had something to say, but being silly in East Oakland, California, can be a hazard, because they take your kindness for weakness,” Johnson told SN&R. “So I was fighting the natural way that I am, and I’m naturally a funny person. I look at the world funny because that’s the only way to deal with it.”

Johnson’s performance comes from his three stage personas: himself; his “silly side,” Trissie Tris; and his “thug-silly side,” Hoody 2 Shoes. While he uses the first two for performing specific types of jokes, he feels some of his most important bits come from the mouth of Hoody, who makes fun of all things “thuggish and gangster.”

Johnson’s first time onstage was Mother’s Day 2009 at A Touch A’ Class, and after performing sets for two years, he and his “comedy workout brother” Mike Sinclair decided to look for a space to host an open-mic for fresh comics in Sacramento. Stoney Inn owner Kevin Lutz decided to let them try out Mondays at his club, and the two comics have been going strong since their first show around Johnson’s 29th birthday in January 2011.

“When somebody gave me the chance to do comedy, it changed my life,” noted Johnson. “I went to a comedy show once and I never went home. My life hasn’t been the same since.”

Before he ever stood on the stage that helped him realize his talent, he led a life in Oakland that was leading to trouble. His mother decided to move their family to Sacramento, where her son enrolled in Grant Union High School and graduated two years later. After finishing high school, he drove trucks for seven years, which helped him realize his potential as a comic.

“You spend a lot of time on the road just thinking of crazy stuff,” remembered Johnson, recalling his days of hauling. “You meet different people for about five minutes every stop. After a while of talking to different people wherever I went, people were laughing. Strangers feel comfortable having conversations with me. No matter if I got a mouth full of gold or crazy, colored hair. I seem like I’m accepted by everyone, every walk of life.”

The Sacramento area has long been a haven for amateurs to find their footing, with regular open-mic nights and a number of venues, and has played host to famous comics as well, including D.L. Hughley and Dave Chappelle. Johnson has plenty of confidence in Sacramento, and feels that its comedy will soon be another reason for people to flock here.

“There’s a lot of comedy that’s booming in Sacramento,” said a proud Johnson. “We’re putting together shows all the time. Comedy in Sacramento is about to skyrocket! That’s gonna be the new claim to fame for Sacramento—that it’s breeding some of the best comics.”