Comedian Jermaine “FunnyMaine” Johnson -- an outspoken Alabama Crimson Tide fan best known for his YouTube presence -- brought plenty of laughs and stories to the Enterprise County Club Tuesday night.
His appearance, hosted by the Coffee County Chapter of the University of Alabama Alumni Association, was to benefit a total of seven local scholarships.
Johnson, in his first ever trip to Enterprise, reflected on the happenings in his recent life as well as his years as an Alabama football fan. He has been involved in comedy since 2005, but did not start his “How Bama Fans Watched” series -- his most popular -- until 2014.
The series features comedic analysis of the weekend’s slate of college football games.
“Drove down here from Birmingham,” Johnson joked at the start of his show. “I said to the GPS, ‘Siri, take me to Enterprise, Alabama.’ She said, ‘Really?’”
Johnson was born in Opelika and grew up in Birmingham. He attended Stillman College in Tuscaloosa. The YouTube sensation has been an Alabama fan since the age of three.
“Everybody always asks me when I became I Bama fan,” he said. “I don’t remember not being a Bama fan. I just don’t. I remember when I was little I would be on my mom’s lap and she would just be going crazy about this team wearing crimson and I would look at her like, ‘Why is she hollering at this little TV?’ Then I just caught on, man. At three-years-old I started hollering when she was hollering.”
Johnson said his mother’s side of the family was from Tuscaloosa and were all “big-time Bama fans.”
“They used to know a lot of the players and everything,” he said. “My mom was friends with a lot of the players. My aunt told me a lot of the stories. My mom passed away when I was younger so I always ask a lot of stuff about her and it was like mom just knew everybody. (My aunt told me), ‘We went out to eat one time and she called one of her friends over -- said Joe, come here, I want you to meet my sister.’ It was Joe Namath.
“My mom was also best friends with a young lady named Jeri. She introduced Jeri to a man named Sylvester and they got married. That was Sylvester Croom.”
While attending Stillman College, Johnson said he could see Bryant-Denny Stadium from his dorm room.
“I thought (the University) would let you in because you’re a fan,” he joked. “Well, they looked at my ACT scores and said that ain’t going to work. I may be the first person in history to get rejected for undergrad and get in graduate. I could see Bryant-Denny from my dorm room at Stillman, though -- looked like ya’ll were having a great time.”
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Johnson -- sporting his trademark “Run Da Bawl” slogan everywhere he goes -- is having a great time, too. Now he’s trying to make his comedic life a fulltime career.
For the past seven years, Johnson has worked at the hip-hop station 95.7 JAMZ in Birmingham. On Sept. 1, he quit that job to pursue his comedy career.
“It’s scary, man,” Johnson said. “Ya’ll pray for me. I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future.”
After a brief pause, Johnson looked out over the crowd with a smirk that anyone familiar with Johnson would associate with his YouTube videos and added, “That’s a good one. Ya’ll gonna use that at church.”
Following his hour-long performance, in which he quipped about the recent end of his engagement and being five years free of smoking -- “I had to give it up because them commercials really got to me” -- Johnson welcomed questions from the audience.
In the Q&A session, Johnson revealed he knows and still talks to Irvin Casey, the Bama fan from the famed “Man, I Hate Tennessee” YouTube video, that the first Alabama player he ever met was Bobby Humphrey and that he still keeps up with all the Crimson Tide players in the NFL.
He also said he's “never seen anything like” Alabama’s current receiving corps of Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle.
“Go back and look at the second half of the national championship game against Georgia,” he said. “A lot of these guys came in ready to ball. They’ve been good (since then). The fact that they’re just older and wiser now -- they’re pretty much unstoppable, but I’m enjoying this.
“There’s nothing like being a Bama fan.”
Johnson said he enjoyed his warm welcome to Enterprise.
“Keeping doing great things,” he said. “Everything ya’ll do here in Enterprise for the university, I promise it matters.”