Jo Koy on Loving Brian McKnight for his Filipino-ness, Partying Like a Rock Star and His Upcoming Special 'Lights Out'
Jo Koy is a fireball of energetic fun as a regular on Chelsea Lately's roundtable--and more. Koy is a family man who works hard (he has two DVDs under his belt, with the latest out this March), and it's pretty obvious that stand-up is what he was born to do.
As he's rolling through the Irvine Improv from Thursday through Sunday, we asked him a few questions to find out what really makes him tick.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): You seem like a real family man and I love that your mom gets so excited when you mention her in your set.
Jo Koy: Oh yeah. My mom loves the attention and rightfully so, you know what I mean? She deserves it and she works hard so I don't mind. Every show she wants to be there and I get to point out my mom, which is cool.
Will she be in Irvine?
No she won't be there. I don't know. One time she did show up! It was crazy!
And you like to squeeze in stories about your son, which is so cute. What's new with him?
Oh he's great! He's in private school now. You know, that's a product of being a Filipino kid. I'm half white and half Filipino so of course the Filipino side is like, "He has to go to private school. Get him out of public school, he needs a better education!" So now he's wearing polo shirts and tight shorts to school for the Grandma. I'm teasing though, I love it.
Does he have your sense of humor?
Oh he is so funny. My son's so damn funny! He's got it and he loves the stage too. He likes to go up on stage after I say good night. He likes to walk up there and wave to the crowd, he enjoys it.
Maybe he'll follow in your footsteps one day. Would you be cool with that?
I would love it! Oh yeah. I'd love to retire and just watch my son. That would be so much fun for me.
What if you ended up opening for him one night! How crazy that would be?
That'd be great! Right? Wouldn't that be so sweet if I opened and I just called my son out on the stage? That'd be so cool. I'd love it. As a dad, that'd be the best thing.
Do you think that being funny is something that people are just born with?
You know, it's crazy. I think it's just something that you're born with. Like my son's naturally funny. He's got it. Even at his age it's kind of crazy how adult his humor his. I know he's got it. He's not trying. My dad tries to be funny. That's very annoying.
I can relate. Especially in a public situation, my dad really tries to go for it.
It's just so annoying, right? My dad sounds really cornball. I'm like, dad, that's not even funny. Why are you laughing at your own stuff? It's not even that funny.
Does he always say, "Where do you think you get it from?" That's what mine says.
Oh yeah. [Laughs.] He says that same thing too! I love my dad. He's always been a big supporter of me doing stand-up. You can tell he always wanted to be on stage but you know, he doesn't have the comedy chops! He just doesn't have it.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I knew I'd be a comedian when I saw Eddie Murphy do "Delirious." When I saw that stand-up special I was like, I gotta be him. I couldn't wait to get out of high school to pursue it.
What was your major in college?
No major. I don't even know why I was in college because there was no reason for me to be there. I wasn't even smart in high school, what the hell am I doing in college? My mom wanted me to go to college and get a degree. That's the whole Filipino mentality. Get a degree! That way you'll be successful! Why spend all that money on college when I am just going to tell jokes for a living? They don't give degrees for that! If you know you want to be an entertainer, or a writer, or whatever, all you need to do is pursue that. I don't need to take science and psychology, for what? I tell jokes!
It's an old school mentality. They think you need your education to "fall back on."
No! It's so funny that you said that because that's exactly what my mom would say! You need a degree to fall back on. You need that because if comedy doesn't work out for you, you have your degree. I'd be like, Mom, if I don't make it doing stand-up I'm gonna do anything else. I'm gonna die doing this! I would work three jobs. As long as I could tell a joke on stage, I'm happy. I already have my son's college fund all ready, but if he doesn't decide to go, I'm not just going to give him the money. But I'm going to make sure that he uses it towards whatever he wants to pursue.
Agreed! You seem like you're a pretty fun guy...have you ever gone full on "rock star" in a hotel?
Oh yeah! We did that in San Diego one time and it was pretty pathetic. We pretty much cleaned out every single wet bar completely in three rooms. There was like seven of us. [Laughs.]
Did they charge you for that or did you get it free for staying there?
Oh hell no! I had to pay for it! Oh god what a night that was. Then we stayed up until 7 a.m. and the pool opened, so we ended up going in the pool. Then we started all over again. It was pretty loser-ey, actually. I think we were a bunch of losers at that point.
At least you had fun in the moment! Have there been any guests that you were so excited to meet while shooting Chelsea Lately?
When I saw Brian McKnight I was kind of oh like, oh shit! He was really the only one.
It's funny you mentioned Brian to me of all people! He's my favorite singer ever! No joke, I love me some BMK!
[Laughs.] Are you serious? When I saw Brian McKnight I kinda went gaga. Everyone else I'd kinda just leave but when I saw Brian McKnight was a guest I was like, I gotta meet him! I gotta go to his room and shake his hand. And you know we've had some big celebs that have come through, but I'll just leave like no big deal. But Brian McKnight's kind of like 20 years in the making. I've been listening to him since like, 1990. He's the best. He's the king of the ballads. He does a lot of stuff in the Philippines too. He writes a lot of songs for artists out there. He even has Filipino song! He sings it in Tagalog! Love him.
Love! We could talk about him all day. What are you working on next?
Right now, my special is coming out in March for Comedy Central. It's going to be my second hour long special and it's called, "Lights Out." I can't wait. Then the DVD will release in April. This one is my favorite one out of everything that I've written. I get to talk about all of the stuff my mom did when I was a kid, there'll be stories about my son, and it's really fun.
Nice! Give me some hype on your Irvine show.
I can't wait! It's all new stuff that I've been working on out on the road. When I get to Irvine, it's going to be stuff you haven't heard before. Which is always kind of my goal. I like to give people new stuff in case they've come out to see me before. I got a ton of new stories about my son's private school. Wait until you hear about that!
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