You may not remember the name, but you definitely remember the laugh of Anthony “AJ” Johnson. He’s the actor and comedian best known for his performance as Ezal in “Friday” with Ice Cube and Chris Tucker. His short stature but quit-witted jokes had people laughing all over the place. But it is with sad hearts that we report Johnson has died, his representative LyNea Bell told CNN Monday. He was 55.
“The world of comedy has truly been shaken, again. Our BH Talent family is heartbroken about the loss of the iconic legend of stage and screen Mr. Anthony ‘A.J.’ Johnson,” Bell said in a statement. “He has left with us amazing memories of his laughter, dynamic acting skills, but most of all his enormous personality and heart of gold. We will be in constant prayer for his entire family including his wife Lexis, three children, brother Edward ‘Peanut’ Smith, sister Sheila, and lifetime manager and friend Mike D. Please give them the time they need to process and grieve such a huge loss.”
No cause of death has been shared as of September 20th.
Per TMZ, Johnson’s nephew revealed the actor “was found lifeless in a store earlier this month in Los Angeles and rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.”
Johnson, who was born in Compton, Calif., began his career performing stand-up comedy in the ’90s. He continued to practice stand-up even as his acting credits became more prominent. Sometimes credited as “A.J. Johnson,” his breakthrough role came in the form of the character E.Z.E. in the 1990 Kid n’ Play comedy House Party, and he went on to appear on several other ’90s television shows including The Parent ‘Hood, Malcolm & Eddie, Martin, and The Jamie Foxx Show.
On the big screen, Johnson’s credits included ’90s films like Menace II Society, Lethal Weapon 3, and I Got the Hook-Up.
“Friday” co-star Ice Cube took to Twitter to pay tribute, writing, “Sad to wake up to the news about AJ Johnson passing away. Naturally funny dude who was straight outta Compton at the same time. Sorry I couldn’t bring your character Ezal back to the big screen in Last Friday…”
Sad to wake up to the news about AJ Johnson passing away. Naturally funny dude who was straight outta Compton at the same time. Sorry I couldn’t bring your character Ezal back to the big screen in Last Friday… https://t.co/gKbYZDZ4Br
— Ice Cube (@icecube) September 20, 2021
AJ was great at delievering a great stand up routine as evidenced in this Def Comedy