Before his set on Saturday (April 6th) at the Houston Improv, we were able to talk to Jo Koy, who has been on Comedy Central, Chelsea Handler, and multiple appearances on the tonight show. This comedian from California gave us a ring and talked to us about his material, writing, and DJ mom.
Koy: Sorry, I was supposed to call earlier but we had some car trouble.
Me: Oh don’t worry; I have never been to a standup show where the comedian is on time so I am used to it.
Koy: Yeah, well I am sorry. So how are you?
Me: I am fine, just wanting to say it’s a pleasure to talk to you and lots of people wanted to do this interview, so I had to kill them all to get this.
Koy: Good, I am talking to a murderer. I love it.
Me: You have been doing this for a number of years, so for your material do you sit down and write it or do you just come up with it on the spot?
Koy: Its funny because when I first started comedy I used to jot a lot of stuff down trying to figure out the structure of the joke until the point I was getting comfortable on stage and being more conversational. Then it was like, “Well I am talking about my mom anyways,” so how hard is that to write about anyway. Then I talk about my son and how hard is that. It’s kind of like when you are at work and someone tell you a funny story about their son. I noticed I was doing that a lot with my friends, you know talking about my son and people would just start laughing. Then I was like, “Why am I writing this down, can do it here then I could do it on stage,” you know so that is how I start writing my material.
Me: Most of your stuff then isn’t, “A bear and Olympian walk into a bar,” it is more autobiographical then.
Koy: Yeah! It’s kind of like the stories that my mom or son give me, I will just elaborate a little bit and I’ll soup it up a bit but for the most part it’s pretty much my life. It’s pretty much what happens you know its current and up to date on what’s going on in my family as dysfunctional as it is.
Me: Well when you were growing up, in your sets you discuss how your parents were against you doing standup. Would you let your son try it out?
Koy: Oh yeah in a heartbeat.
Me: Or he could be a DJ like your mom.
Koy: Yeah! That is crazy that you even know that! Yeah, she is sixty six and decided to become a DJ so go for it mom.
Me: Will she be playing Kanye all day?
Koy: Oh man! That would be hilarious my mom, just playing Kanye all day and some Jay-Z at the same time.
(In his mother’s voice): This is the new track from Kanye West.
Me: That would be great, so what’s your most memorable television appearance so far?
Koy: My most memorable one is the tonight show. That was the one that changed my life. I was already fifteen years into standup when I got “The Tonight Show,” and I was still working part time jobs everywhere you know what mean. I felt like I was going nowhere. Then I did “The Tonight Show,” and it was over with, I got gigs on top of gigs, I was working the road, I got a commercial deal you know. A lot of good things happened because of that. That’s my most memorable TV performance. It can never be topped, that was it.
Me: Did that land you with Chelsea (Handler) or was that something else?
Koy: Oh no, me and Chelsea were friends before that. We met through Jon Lovitz, I met her six years ago and, “The Tonight Show,” was five years ago. I knew Chelsea back in the day when she knew nobody. Now she’s got all of Hollywood’s money its crazy. She is so powerful now; it’s great to see that, great to see your friend blow up like that right before your eyes. It felt like overnight you know what I mean, and now seeing what it is now, it’s like a well-oiled machine. She is the driver of this machine, and I am happy to be a part of it. I call her the new Johnny Carson and it helps you on the road.
Me: Do you prefer that or do you still like being on the road doing the standup club gigs?
Koy: Oh definitely standup. It’s my heart (and) my passion. I love the stool, I love the bottled water, I love the microphone, I love the clubs I get to go to in different cities. The different reactions from different crowds for different jokes you know. I love it man, I love being creative and spontaneous and being vulnerable. You can only get that from being on stage you know. I love being self-deprecating and talk about myself. I love it when people relate to my stuff, you know what I mean. I love it when people come up to me and talk about my mom even though they are not Filipino they can relate.
Me: Yeah, my mom is Mexican so I can relate a lot.
Koy: Yeah, exactly. Everyone gets it, so it doesn’t matter if your mom is Latina or my mom is Filipina, they are still moms and do crazy shit and everyone gets it. Just like my mom playing with the Wii, everyone just comes up to me and says, “Yeah my mom plays the Wii,” or, “My grandma plays the Wii.” It’s the same shit your mom does, and it’s cool to see that you know.
Me: So you started with Jon Lovitz. Oh, I heard your Jon Ovitz impression by the way. It is dead on.
Koy (In a Jon Lovitz voice): Jon Lovitz.
Koy: He made me impersonate him in front of (himself), it was the weirdest thing. Like if one of his friends would come to the show he would be like:
(Jon Lovitz Voice): Okay Danny, you have to see him do me. It’s hysterical.
Me: I had no idea anyone could do a Jon Lovitz impression.
Koy: Well that’s my idol which is so crazy because when I was a kid I used to impersonate him in school because all I used to watch was Saturday Night Live and he was kind of, “The man,” (on there) at that time and I used to impersonate him all the time.
Me: Well we talked about things you love so what are things you stay away from during your sets.
Koy: The only thing I never really enjoyed doing was political. I enjoy listening to it but I never really got into talking about it. It was the craziest thing. When I was younger I would try it but I never enjoyed it. The stuff I really like to do as talk about my family. I was really into Cosby and Eddie Murphy, and how they always talked about their aunts and their uncles and their children and I just would sit there and laugh. It’s kind of cool because now I see like fifteen year old kids yell things to me like “Ting Ting” and “Josep,” and I was like, “Wow, that was me when I was fifteen talking about chocolate cake.” It’s kind of cool; it’s like seeing this whole cycle of life you know. These kids who come up to me and like listening to my stuff, and I was like, “That was me when I was their age,” talking about Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby, so it’s pretty cool.
Me: You just took credit for the next big comedian.
Koy: No, not at all. When I see those kids I see myself. When I was fifteen I was so into standup and it was cool because that style of standup was relatable at that age. You know you aren’t really into politics at fifteen. You want to see a standup comic talk about fifteen year old shit and it’s like what else is there to relate to and me talking about my son.
Me: Yeah well at fifteen you could be all like, “Yeah my mom found my Playboys.”
Koy: Yeah! Stuff like that.
Me: Are you addicted to Twitter?
Koy: Yeah, I am more on Twitter than I am on Facebook. I can’t even remember the last time I opened my Facebook. All my Facebook is attached to my Twitter anyway so if I use Twitter I link it to my Facebook. It’s kind of crazy man.
Me: Then it is you on the receiving end of Twitter?
Koy: Yeah man it’s all me. My sister helps me with my Facebook but Twitter is all me. I do it through my phone and I am always answering. When I am on the plan I just sit there and reply to people.
Me: Well good thing you accept it because this wasn’t and interview, this was a Twitter intervention.
Koy: I need my Twitter, give me my fix. I need to tweet.
Me: Do you have anything coming out soon?
Koy: My DVD just came out, my brand new hour on Comedy Central. You get the whole package, my first DVD and my second one, and a free shirt, and a bag, and all kinds of shit.
Me: A strand of hair to?
Koy: A strand of hair from my son.
Me: Where can people get it at?
Koy: Just go to Jokoy.com
Me: Thank you so much for your time.
Koy: Oh dude it was nice talking to you man.