Jo Koy breaks the mold
What: "Break the Mold" with Jo Koy
When: 6 pm Sun., Feb. 18
Where: Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Political humor isn’t Jo Koy’s thing, but that doesn’t mean the standup comedian’s material is void of topical anecdotes—it simply means they’re cloaked in stories about his family.
For example, at a recent gig in Seattle the former Washingtonian did a lot more than skirt around the subject of racism when talking about his parents, and his ethnicity.
“I’m half-white, half-Filipino—which means my dad was in the military,” Koy said, eliciting a burst of laughter from the audience. “He was borderline racist, and would say things like, ‘You know why I married your mom, right? Because I love Chinese food.’”
When Koy pointed out to his pops that his mother is from the Philippines, not China, he said his dad would respond with zingers like “Whatever, rice is rice,” resulting in his son’s bafflement—and the fodder for a stinging standup routine years down the line.
But it’s his mother who gets the most time onstage. The diminutive dervish who raised Koy and his siblings on her own after their parents divorced is a force to be reckoned with, and whether Koy is talking about how hilarious it is to watch her play Wii with his son—“she really thinks she’s in the fucking bowling alley”—or hanging out with her and shooting the breeze at the buffet where she works, it’s clear there’s a lot of love between the two of them.
“Mom raised us,” Koy said during the aforementioned routine. “She’s little, but she’s tough. She never took us to a doctor; she raised us like we were still in the Philippines. She cured everything with Vicks VapoRub. I should’ve died nine times when I was a kid.”
Kidding aside, Koy—whose given name is Joseph Glenn Herbert, but who goes by his childhood nickname onstage—has long credited his mother for helping his comedic and acting talents shine. Growing up, she encouraged him to take part in school talent shows and hold impromptu performances for friends and family. And when the clan moved from Tacoma to Las Vegas to be near Koy’s sick grandmother, she was there to let him know that yes, he should definitely try out his material at a local coffee shop.
It turns out that was what he needed to break into show business. In 1994, he had his first performance at a Vegas comedy club, and soon landed a regular spot at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. A talent coordinator from Los Angeles got him his first television appearance on BET’s ComicView, and he has since had two successful specials on Comedy Central, and is one of a select few comics to receive a standing ovation on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. These days, he routinely sells out theaters and comedy clubs across the nation.
At his “Break the Mold” tour stop Sun., Feb .18 at the Mount Baker Theatre, a few mom jokes are sure to be on the roster. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his mother—it just means he’s honoring her the best way he knows how.
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