By Leslie Yeh
Northwest Asian Weekly
Tacoma-born comedian Jo Koy (Joseph Glenn Herbert) is used to hearing the sound of laughter. With a natural charisma and a lively stage persona, the Filipino American is a well-known face in the world of stand-up.
On Sept. 25, Koy will unleash a brand new set at The Moore Theater in Seattle, which he guarantees will excite fans. “It’s all new stuff, it touches base on everything … new stories about my son, my mom, and just stuff I’ve experienced on the road,” he said.
The entertainer’s dream of becoming a comedian started when he was a 9-year-old kid watching comedy on television. “When I first saw Eddie Murphy,” he said, “I was like ‘Oh, I got to be him!’”
Koy’s mother helped him enter into the world of entertainment. “My mom was always active in the Filipino community, always putting shows together,” he said. “My sister and I got involved in these events where we had to perform, and I wasn’t scared to get on stage anymore.”
His first stint in stand-up was in 1994 at a comedy club in Las Vegas. After working various coffee shops and open mic nights, Koy secured a spot in the “Catch a Rising Star” show at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.
During one of these shows, he was spotted by a talent coordinator from Los Angeles, who helped him land his first television appearance on BET’s “Comic View.”
Since then, he has made appearances on multiple television shows including “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “Comedy Central Presents.” He headlined for such acts as Dave Chappelle, Mike Epps, and Snoop Dogg.
In 2005, Jo Koy became one of the few entertainers to ever receive a standing ovation on Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show.”
Despite his rising stardom, Jo Koy is down-to-earth regarding his success. He credits his heritage as a constant source of inspiration. “It’s easy to talk about [my family] because they’re so funny … it makes me want to write about it. My mom is funny, and the way we were brought up is funny. We would have Christmas parties with a skinny Filipino guy dressed as Santa Claus.”
Along with being a regular at the roundtable discussion on E!’s “Chelsea Lately,” Koy currently tours comedy clubs nationwide. He has released a DVD of his Comedy Central special, “Jo Koy: Don’t Make Him Angry,” and is in the process of taping a Comedy Central show titled “The Jo Koy Show.”
Koy’s popularity is largely due to his ability to write jokes with widespread appeal for all ethnicities. “It’s not like you have to be Filipino to get my jokes,” he said. “I didn’t want that. When I talk about my mom, I’m just talking about my mother who happens to be Filipino. The audience is not like ‘Oh, I’m Filipino, I get it’ … I hope it breaks down those stereotypes.”
In response to overcoming stereotypes as an Asian entertainer, Koy said, “Hopefully with people like myself, Bobby [Lee], and all these other guys that are trying to knock those doors down, we won’t have to deal with [stereotypes] later. There are a lot of Filipinos involved in mainstream entertainment right now that are making things happen. The doors are opening for us.”
Koy is excited to return to Seattle and hopes to bring an action-packed show to the Moore Theater. “It’s going to be fun, man, a lot of energy on this show, a lot. I’m bringing the pain on this one!” ♦
Koy will be in Seattle on Sept. 25 at the Moore Theater. Visit www.livenation.com for tickets.
Leslie Yeh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.