In June of 1987, John Basinger was working as a nurse and heading into a predictable middle age. Maybe it was a mid-life crisis that caused him to take the name Honest John and start running around Los Angeles telling jokes.
“I just went anywhere I could get on stage,” he recalls, “clubs, coffeehouses, bars, restaurants, anywhere I could get up. After a while I was like a fanatic, I just couldn’t do it enough. I knew that this is what I was meant to do.” Then one Thursday night, a comedian named Gerald McQuirter invited him to an open mic at the Comedy Act Theater, one of the foremost black venues in the country.
“Actually, he dragged me along with him, just called me up and said, ‘Saddle up, John, we’re going,’ and I got up and slammed.” Soon, Honest John became a fixture on the black circuit in the Los Angeles area. “People would come up to me on the street and ask where I was going to perform next. It blew my mind.”
Triumphant appearances on BET's Comicview, HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, and Showtime at the Apollo introduced him to fans all across the country, leading to appearances at clubs and theaters nationwide and a two year run on the Def Comedy Jam tour. He has also done many military tours in places as far away as Korea, Okinawa, and Japan.
He has guest starred on The Jamie Foxx Show, The Lyricist Lounge Show, and Showtime in Harlem. He can also be seen in films like The Wash, For da Love of Money, Foolish, and other urban comedies.
As for the future, Honest John says he’s working on a comedy special and would like to do more acting.