Comedian Anwar Newton, the mastermind behind Ja Rule Day.EXPAND
Comedian Anwar Newton, the mastermind behind Ja Rule Day.
Anwar Newton

How to Celebrate Ja Rule Day

Ja Rule Day is nearly here. On Saturday, December 9, it'll be time to start living it up.

What's Ja Rule Day, you ask? It's a day to celebrate the rapper/actor Ja Rule, of course.

Concocted by Phoenix comedian Anwar Newton, the holiday is now three years old — and Ja himself has endorsed the annual festivities via Twitter. Newton says he's surprised people are still talking about Ja Rule Day, especially considering Newton thinks the whole idea is a little ridiculous.

“[The holiday] has taken on a life of its own,” he says with a laugh. “I love it, but it is very overwhelming. People have been bugging me all year about this thing.”

It all started when Newton heard a song by the hip-hop artist on Pandora around 2 p.m on December 8, 2015. He thought everyone else should be listening along with him, but it was too late in the day.

“I thought, ‘Tomorrow, I’ll make a whole holiday out of it,’” Newton recalls. “Then I thought we should celebrate it like it was Christmas and put on a big party.”

The first party was only for his co-workers, complete with cake and fake bandannas. After Ja Rule retweeted Newton’s holiday declaration, Newton knew he had to host a legit party the following year. Festivities took over the lounge at Crescent Ballroom in 2016.

Ja Rule Day is not the first of Newton’s ideas to grab the collective imagination of the internet and comedy fans.

“I just do little stupid things that I think are fun,” he says. “Fortunately, other people think they are fun, too.”

In 2014, he took screenshots of a text conversation he had with a friend under the influence of psychedelic mushrooms at the San Diego Comic-Con. His hilarious, surreal, and oddly truthful descriptions went viral. They helped the stand-up build a name for himself.

Newton hosts two shows regularly. Literally The Worst Show Ever is held monthly at Valley Bar, and This Week Sucks, Tonight! happens every Thursday at Crescent Ballroom. He has opened for Tig Notaro twice. And on Saturday, December 2, he was a featured storyteller at the live show of the popular storytelling podcast Risk! alongside host Kevin Allison, who was a member of the cult comedy troupe The State. He got up onstage at Valley Bar to tell the hilarious and emotional story of how he gave a 17-year-old kid carjacker a ride across town.

Newton says that society’s need to loathe things that are not that bad — whether it's the food at Chili’s or a superhero movie — is what helps inspire his ideas.

“We’ve gotten to a place of hate-lust,” Newton says. “Everybody wants to be heard about what they dislike. They want to tell everyone about what they hate. Everybody threw Ja Rule away. You go back and listen to some of his songs and liked nearly every single one, so why do you hate him so much?”

Clearly, there was no irony behind Newton’s proclamation of Ja Rule Day. Ja Rule is still a solid rapper despite the controversy that has dogged him throughout his career, including his rivalry with 50 Cent and the recent class-action lawsuit filed against him and his business partner as a result of the ill-fated Fyre Festival.

Those attending the celebration at The Rebel Lounge on Saturday, December 9, should check any distaste for Ja at the door. Expect games and music by DJ Vex and Greg Diarra.

The man of honor could show up, Newton jokes. But he has some surprises up his sleeve in the more likely event that Ja does not make an appearance.

One thing you can count on? Carolers singing Ja Rule-themed holiday classics.

“It’s going to be the first holiday party that you go to,” Newton says. “It’s going to be so stupid that every other party that you go to this year will pale in comparison.”

The Third Annual Ja Rule Day is scheduled for Saturday, December 9, at The Rebel Lounge. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the venue’s website.

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