california_theater_8914_janehiggins2Phil Johnson is a man who gets mistaken for a woman, but only by those not paying attention. That revelation kicks off a battle for self-awareness where comedy and music are the weapons of choice. It’s a battle that has taken Phil to such esteemed festivals as the Edinburgh Fringe and Sundance Film Festivals and the Top 8 Finals of the World Series of Comedy.

“I’ve always been the guy who isn’t quite what people expect,” says Phil. Using that experience, Phil pokes holes in the medical marijuana argument, discusses being a white guy at a hip hop show (and the innocent gestures that can get him in trouble), and reveals why Hawaii isn’t the paradise we think it is.

From Shakespearean bees to redneck vampires to anthropomorphic cell phones with weight issues, Phil Johnson fills the stage with quirky characters that combine social satire with absurdist flights of fancy. Then the guitar comes out and kicks the show into an even higher gear with songs about the bright future (and dark past) of babies and what he would do if he woke up one morning as an actual woman.

On stage, Phil’s playful humor and likeable, endearing manner allow him to shake things up without antagonizing the audience. In the end we can only be who we are, try to understand others, and hope they understand us.


RA Curtain CallRoadside Attraction comes from leader Phil Johnson’s twin careers in music and comedy. “The idea here is songs that are musically interesting and challenging, but also funny, and understandable by a casual music listener,” says Johnson. It’s more eclectic than Stephen Lynch, funnier than Prince, and more palatable than Frank Zappa, though influences of all three abound.

“Afrodizzyac” is their take on Blaxploitation film themes. This one is about an international super spy (Afrodizzyac) saving the women of the world from his archenemy, Left Nut. “Brown Ring Around The Collar” is a happy tirade about the stupid people we meet every day. And “Hella Good Day” is Phil Johnson’s own musing on what would make his perfect day. “I wrote it during a really bad day and it helped cheer me up. I don’t expect people to personally relate to each lyric. But I hope it will make them think about what would make them happier.”

Two of the greatest forms of release are live music and a hearty laugh. And Roadside Attraction delivers in spades as evidenced by the audience of young and old, and every ethnicity you’ll find in the audience. Roadside Attraction play by their own rules, and doing everything they can to help you loosen up.

Phil and Ray
John Jesse Rafael