By Priyal Patel
Currently on tour, comedian Jo Koy has made his way to San Jose, CA. Koy will be performing this weekend at the San Jose Improv May 8-10. I had a chance to chat with Jo about his work, tour, and what it means to represent the Filipino and Asian American communities as an entertainer.
Koy has currently been touring for the past seven years, performing at venues all over the country, and is even a regular on Chelsea Lately. Koy says his journey has been “a dream come true and that even though being on the road can be tough at times, he is thankful for his success and grateful to his family, son, and girlfriend for keeping him grounded.
As a successful Filipino American entertainer, Koy appreciates the opportunity to represent his community. He has been known to use stories about his Filipino mother in his stand up and credits her; “I get my humor from my mom.” Although his stand up bits about his mother are very popular, Koy admits he was not sure at first, “I was reluctant in the beginning to talk about my mom, I wanted to relate to everyone, not just the Filipinos. It was a big problem when I first started talking about my mom, I wanted to represent, but also identify and relate to everyone. That has always been my goal.” Koy is proud to be able to represent and help the community. He even mentioned his good friend; “apl.de.ap” from the Black Eyed Peas, thanked him for helping put Filipinos “on the map.”
While many people are proud to have him represent the community, not all are happy about his stand up material. Some find Koy’s stand up racist or offensive. When I asked Koy about how he responds to people whom are offended by his material, “People are entitled to feel that way, but if you don’t know me, don’t judge me.” He says that his humor “comes from a funny place, not a hurtful one.” Koy grew up around this kind of humor, “I enjoy it when my friends make fun of me. If you can’t laugh at yourself, don’t laugh at all.”
Some can argue that entertainers should not use material that offends others, however, it seems Koy comes from a good place, with good intentions: to make people laugh. Koy is upfront and honest about his work and himself, and perhaps some find him to be a little too honest. However, whether you are a fan or not, after a twenty-five minute conversation, I can say one thing for sure, Jo Koy is a genuine person.
Aside from performing, Koy enjoys giving back to the community. He is currently raising money for the Lupus Foundation, an organization he was inspired to work with after finding out his sister had Lupus. Koy will be selling T shirts at all of his shows to raise money for cause. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Lupus Foundation.
You can catch Koy on his current tour and find tour dates on his website. In case you miss him live, Koy’s third special is coming out soon. His message to his fans, “keep laughing, and laugh at everything.”