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Face2Face with Jo Koy

After paying his dues, Filipino-American comedian makes strides in entertainment industry

 

Photo by Joe Nguyen/AsiaXpress.com

Comedian Jo Koy poses June 18 at ComedyWorks Downtown in Denver.

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Jo Koy's official website

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.

 

next page: Koy's early days, inspiration >>

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