Improvisations, open mics, cultural differences, and family jokes. These are some of the topics we discussed during our virtual chat with Joseph Glenn Herbert, Sr. (known professionally as Jo Koy) to promote his Funny is Funny World Tour happening tomorrow, August 31, at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.
One of today’s premier stand-up comics, the 51-year-old comedian has come a long way from his modest beginnings performing at a Las Vegas coffee house. The hugely relatable comic pulls inspiration from his family, specifically his son Joseph Herbert, Jr., and Filipino mom Lydia Gaston. But did you know that Jo Koy doesn’t ask permission from them whenever he would use them as main subjects for his show?
“That’s my story to tell. I’ve always been open to just letting people be inside my life,” he told Manila Standard Entertainment. “In doing my shows, I’m able to share my truth, my story.”
Jo Koy finds sharing his story with the audience as the most rewarding part of what he does. More than making people laugh, it’s the feeling of accomplishment that he’s able to tell relatable stories that his audience can reflect to.
While it’s true that his jokes are not for everyone, he appreciates feedback from people who matter and brushes off comments from people who harshly criticize his performances.
“I honestly don’t care when people talk about my jokes not being funny or culturally correct,” he said, citing that he gives more attention to reviews he gets from the likes of Steven Spielberg who even became the producer of his film Easter Sunday, which unspools in local theaters tomorrow as well. The feature film is loosely based on Jo Koy’s life experiences, and set around a family gathering to celebrate Easter Sunday.
“Why would I listen to someone I don’t know, or someone online who has nothing good to say about my performance when I’m getting good words from the likes of Steven Spielberg who appreciates my show,” he added.
As a Filipino American, Jo Koy has been vocal about his early struggle with identity especially with his bi-racial appearance, a half white trying to make a name for himself in the comedy bar circuit.
“I just did what I love to do,” he said, noting that everything he has now was a product of his continuous effort and dedication to improve his craft.
Meanwhile, in one of his Netflix specials, he addresses the stereotype that all Asian people look alike. He does Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese impressions to show the differences in accents.
“Comedy is comedy, no matter the ethnicity or location of the audiences. Some people find it offensive because they don’t understand the joke. There were minorities who came up to me to thank me for putting them in the spotlight, for recognizing that they exist,” he said.
Asked about his inspiration in producing a script for a show, Jo Koy noted that he loves doing improvisation, which reminded us of his previous show in Manila when he greeted the crowd with a joke about his short car ride to the venue—which took him 45 minutes.
“I adjust my material based on the venue or situation where I’m doing my show,” he said, adding that he used to do a lot of improvisations in open mics where he found himself more grounded. And he still randomly goes to open mics to test new material.
“I’m in my element during open mics because the people there didn’t come to see me,” he shared.
Jo Koy first performed in the Philippines back in January 2020 for his Just Kidding Tour. He did live shows in Manila and Cebu. With new material, he’s back for another show to entertain his local fans.
Tickets to his show are available on smtickets.com and its outlets. It is made possible by Live Nation Philippines.