Comedian Jo Koy Heading to Honolulu for 11 Sold-Out Shows in November 2017
The headliner, who often riffs on his family and Filipino heritage, is on a world tour.
Photo: Robyn Van Swank
Comedian Jo Koy’s early influences include Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor and his unknowingly hilarious Filipino family. With a hit special currently airing on Netflix (Live from Seattle) and a new one in the works, the 46-year-old from the West Coast will be hitting Honolulu with 11 sold-out shows at the Blaisdell Concert Hall this month. (Honolulu city officials say those 23,000 tickets sold appears to be a record for a comedian at that venue.) The shows are Nov. 19–21 and 24–27 in Honolulu; on Nov. 22, he performs two shows on Maui.
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Koy has had his share of “bombs,” and uses those experiences to motivate aspiring local comedians. To get the real scoop on the hot comic, HONOLULU arranged for comedian/actress Kimee Balmilero to interview Koy for us. (Hey, we figured she’d have great questions AND make him laugh, too):
Kimee Balmilero: Let’s get the basic stuff out of the way. Who were your early influences, both personal and famous, that sparked this love for comedy?
Jo Koy: Definitely Eddie Murphy’s Delirious! Everyone always called me a little comedian, but I didn’t really know what that was until I saw Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor.
KB for HM: Are there any people in your family who you would consider funny or would even take claim for your humor?
JK: (laughs) I think they all take claim! For sure, there’s a bunch of funny people on my mom’s side.
Photos: Courtesy of Netflix
KB: Do they ever give you suggestions on what stories to tell?
JK: I can always count on my mom wanting a few extra minutes on her. (switches to his Mom’s voice with a heavy Filipino accent) “Maybe just a couple more stories, Joseph.”
KB: When was your first official show as a stand-up comic?
JK: Oh man, it was like 1989. My sister was in a talent competition in Vegas. Everyone was going to see my sister. Then I saw that they had a comedy portion and I was like, “I’m not gonna tell anybody I’m doing it, but I’m gonna do it.” I signed up and I bombed really bad. I was really, really bad that night. I just wanted to die.
KB: And you still wanted to give it another go?
JK: Oh yeah! I didn’t care. I knew I wanted to be a stand-up comic. I was so in love with Eddie Murphy. I remember him saying in an interview that he bombed the first eight or nine times before he even got a laugh. I always told myself that before I got on stage: “If Eddie can bomb, then I can bomb.”
KB: And now you’re going to play 11 sold-out shows here in Hawai‘i!
JK: I know! Isn’t that crazy? I love Hawai‘i. It’s crazy how many people come up to me and talk to me. I love it. I love it so much.
KB: Ever run into any aspiring local comedians?
JK: There was this one girl. She started crying and said, “You’re my idol and the reason why I want to be a stand-up comedian.” It was really sweet. I asked her if she had been on stage yet and she said, “No,” but she was probably going to go to an open mic that night. My fiancee and I decided to go to the bar that night to surprise her. It was literally this hole in the wall. They had every TV on playing sports. They had bar stools filled up with people just yelling out drinks. You can hear the dishwasher in the back clanking. It was throwing me back to when I first started stand-up.
I saw her and she still didn’t want to go up. I said, “How about if I go on stage, would you go on stage?” And she goes, “Yeah!” So I went up at this local open mic night with all these local comics and next thing you know they’re all calling their friends and family to run to this bar. Everybody from Maui just started showing up to watch me do stand-up. It was one of the coolest moments. And that’s when I met all the local comics on Maui, but that girl didn’t go up on stage.
KB: Oh no. She didn’t make it on stage that night?
JK: Yeah, she just couldn’t do it. The aloha welcome was beautiful. All the local comics were great. I wish there was a better ending, you know, I wish that girl would’ve went on stage.
KB: Hey, you never know. She’s still got time.
JK: I hope she reads this and sees that I still talk about it.
KB: You come to Hawai‘i quite a lot. Any fave food spots in Honolulu?
JK: I gotta get my Zippy’s on.
KB: What do like to you get at Zippy’s?
JK: Are you kidding me? What don’t I get at Zippy’s? I’ll get everything. I can’t even name it all. I can’t get enough of that place.
KB: What’s your fave thing to do in Hawai‘i?
JK: I literally just lie out on the beach. I fly to a different city every weekend and it gets so exhausting. I just veg out, shove food in my face and wear flip flops 24/7.
KB: You mean, slippers. We say “slippers” here.
JK: Oh yeah, “slippahs!” Sorry, I wear my “slippahs” 24/7.
KB: We’re all about slippahs and Toyota Tacomas. (Koy did a fake commercial for Toyota Tacomas on Maui when he saw how popular they are.)
JK: Ha! You know what I loved about that Toyota Tacoma joke? Not only did Hawai‘i really embrace it, but people that visit Hawai‘i did too and go, “Holy shit! I said the same thing to myself when I was out there visiting!”
KB: What can Hawai‘i expect in your upcoming shows?
JK: Hawai‘i gets to see the new special. You guys get to see what I’m about to shoot for Netflix again. I always ad-lib. I’ll do 15 minutes on the city I’m in. That’s always new and fresh. I want people to be able to say, “Yeah, that was our show.”