By Ricky Matthew
AUCKLAND – Over the course of several years, stand-up comedian Jo Koy, 51, who is of Filipino and European-American descent, has maintained his popularity in New Zealand and continues to attract large audiences.
After a sell-out tour in Auckland in 2018 he returned in December 2019 as part of his ‘Just Kidding World Tour.’ And now the ‘Jo Koy World Tour 2023,’ with all new material, is his third tour in New Zealand (28 May – Wellington and 29 May – Auckland).
The comedian drew inspiration from his family, in particular his Filipino mum and his son and material that revolves around cultural references has been selling out arenas and theatres worldwide. However, the packed audience at the Trust Arena in West Auckland were in for a treat, as Jo Koy focused on crowd work and incorporated local jokes such as his first time eating Malaysian food at the Westfield Mall and his take on the difference between Aussies and Kiwis.
Koy recently starred in the Universal Picture film Easter Sunday set around a family gathering to celebrate Easter Sunday, the comedy is based on Jo Koy’s life experiences and stand-up comedy. His Easter Sunday co-star, Joey Guila, opened up the night with a short routine about his experience as a mixed-race Filipino.
MIGRANT NEWS INTERVIEW:
MN: 33 years in the business, 51 years old and arguably the top Filipino Comedian of all Time (outside the Philippines) and a pioneer for Filipino comedians. What has contributed to your phenomenal success? And where to from here?
JO KOY: Staying focussed and never giving up. There were a lot of times I wanted to quit and thank God I didn’t. There is no limit. I’m going to keep going and never set a limit.
MN: Would it be accurate to say that your focus is Filipino audiences more than mainstream?
JO KOY: I’m just telling stories of my family and I think that they’re relatable no matter what your ethnicity is.
From Mexicans to Nederlanders their moms do the same thing and use Cool Whip containers as Tupperware. Family is always going to be mainstream.
MN: You keep on refreshing the content of your routine; will your Mum and your son continue to be the inspiration for your material?
JO KOY: Always! As longs as they continue to do funny things in real life, I’ll continue to bring it to the stage.
MN: What do you like about New Zealand and what are the touristy things you plan to do here?
JO KOY: In 2019, when I was in New Zealand, I bungee jumped for the first time with my son. Will I repeat it? I’m not sure and of course shopping.
MN: Is the response from Pinoys in New Zealand like what you get overseas using this barometer: Joke Lang, LOL or LYAO?
JO KOY: It’s the same everywhere I go. Of course, Pinoys come out to support me along with everyone else.
Esquire Philippines asked Jo Koy: “How does your mom feel about the jokes that you have made about her?”
Koy replied: “Oh, she loves it! What mom wouldn’t? She enjoys hearing the stories; she loves it. If I did it disrespectfully, I think that she wouldn’t enjoy it, but I put it in a way so that I shine a light on my mom and put her on a platform and it is also something that people relate to. That is what mom likes the most. It is not just about being a Filipino mom, too. Yes, she is Filipino, but she is still a mom and people get that.”
In another interview, this time with Inquirer Entertainment, he said: “I speak highly of the Filipino culture because of my mom.
“What I love the most is that people are loving my mother’s character – because she’s just being a mom! More than that, they’re learning about the Filipino culture. My whole life I’ve always encouraged people to try Filipino food, or just to meet my mom. Now here I am doing that on the world stage!”
As one of today’s premiere stand-up comics, Koy has come a long way from his modest beginnings performing at a Las Vegas coffee house.
Koy started 2022 with a bang, selling out the Climate Pledge Arena (over 14,000 tickets) in his hometown of Seattle. Today he continues breaking sales records at some of the most prestigious venues around the world including Mall of Asia Arena (Manila), The Forum (LA), Coca-Cola Arena (Dubai), ICC Theatre (Sydney) and Radio City Music Hall (New York) to name a few.
In 2017 Koy broke a record for the most tickets sold by a single artist with 23,000 tickets and 11 sold-out shows at The Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu. In response, the mayor’s office in Honolulu proclaimed November 24 as Jo Koy Day.
In 2019 Koy sold out five shows at the San Diego Civic Theatre, the most consecutive sold-out shows for a comedian. He recently became the only comedian to sell 17,000+ tickets, over 30 shows (in one year), at the Brea Improv.
He continued his record-breaking streak by being the only comedian to sell out six shows at The Warfield in San Francisco. He then broke the attendance record at Club Regent
Event Centre in Winnipeg with four sold-out shows.
He was given the prestigious Stand-Up Comedian Of The Year Award at the 2018 Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. He has had four highly rated and successful comedy specials on Comedy Central and Netflix. His 2019 Netflix special, Comin’ In Hot, is currently streaming worldwide.
Photo Credit: Mike Miller Photography. Home Page Photo courtesy of Nilo Jr Amagsila and Nikki Lei.