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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Filipino American Comedian Joseph Glenn Herbert aka Jo Koy is Reppin' Pinoy Pride With Own Show on Comedy Central

After paying his dues, Filipino-American comedian makes strides in entertainment industry
Comedian Joseph Glenn Herbert had trouble concentrating before going on stage when he began his stand-up career. It wasn't because of nervous energy – something he said he has never had with the exception of waiting for his turn at the Apollo Theater because the person before him was booed off – it was because of his name. "It just wasn't catchy," he said. "The emcees would always make fun of it before. ... It took away from me trying to concentrate on being funny."

So one day, he and his cousin Mona were sitting on a couch trying to think of a name that he could use on stage. Nothing came to mind until his aunt Evelyn called them down to dinner. "Mona, Jokoy, it's time to eat," he remembered her saying. The nickname, something that she's called him ever since his childhood, lit a light bulb in the two cousins' heads. "Me and Mona looked at each other and said, 'Jo Koy,'" he said.

The 37-year-old half-Filipino American was named one of the "10 comics to watch" in 2007 by Daily Variety. His high-energy performances blended with observation humor about topics ranging from the antics of his son to the differences between men and women have struck a chord with people of all backgrounds. Among them is Craig Ferguson, host of "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," who once described Koy as "a young Chris Rock" after seeing him perform in Toronto. This rise in popularity has prompted Comedy Central to give him his own show this fall called, "The Jo Koy Show." While he's making strides up the entertainment ladder now, he said it's been a long journey since his start 14 years ago. And it was the lessons of his youth that have taken him to where his is today.

Ever since Koy was a child, performing was a part of his life. "Growing up, my sister (Rowena) was the singer, I was, like, the dancer," he said. "My mom would always be active in the Filipino organizations and she would literally just put us in these talent shows." He said his mother would put together positive events for her various organizations. "We always did entertainment and me and my sister were always at the top of the list," he said. When the family moved down to Las Vegas to help take care of his grandmother, he took the lessons he learned from his mother to start his career. "Unfortunately, there is no stand-up scene in Vegas," he said. "There is no open mic or anything like that. So it forced me to wear the other hat and become producer. It was kind of easy for me to do because I saw my mom do it." So with the help of his mother, he held his first show at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. The line-up included Filipino-American comedian Mark Fernandez and a young Korean-American named Bobby Lee who would later go onto "Mad TV." "I made this effort to go out and find Asian comedians and put together these shows to show everybody that, hey, Asians are funny, too," he said. "We don't need a stupid accent and slant our eyes and do stupid s--- to be funny. We got funny people out there."

When talking to Koy, it becomes obvious that his 5-year-old son, affectionally nicknamed Li'l Jo, is his life. "He's everything," he said. In a blog posted on his MySpace during his run on the Carlos Mencia Punisher Tour, Koy wrote that the hardest part of being on the road was being away from his son for three months. "Before I left to do the tour, I took my son's favorite toy – a yellow power ranger – and brought it with me," he wrote. "Before each performance I stuck this yellow power ranger in my back pants pocket. And during the long bus rides anytime I felt lonely or just wanted to feel the presence of my kid I always took out this yellow power ranger."

After his June 18 show in Denver, he signed cards with a picture of his son on it. When he wasn't doing that, he talked to other parents about about his son. His video camera is filled with movies of his son. "I realized it's more than just me now, It's my son," he said. "It's more than just 'I need to find a gig to pay my rent,' it's, 'I need to find a gig to pay my rent and buy diapers and preschool.' There's more to it now. I have something to live for now. "Every time I wake up and I see him, I just think I got to work hard."

1 comment:

Pinoy WebSurfer said...

filam pala itong si jo koy. didnt know that. i love his impersonation of michael jackson. gonna look it up and post it on my site. thanks for the info man!