Like most comedians who have released specials in the last two years, they usually start off with material involving COVID-19. This is how comedian Jo Koy starts his hour set for his fourth comedy special released on Netflix. Addressing the elephant in the room — due to the 17,000 people there — it feels good to finally be back experiencing the art of comedy and sharing a laugh together without a mask on.
The show explores topics including Koy’s struggle in Hollywood, as well as his appreciation for his Filipino heritage and how the world should celebrate it. Although he provides funny and clever material, the show’s main focus is to shed light on Koy’s struggles in the entertainment business.
When he first started out, Netflix told the comedian ‘no’ several times. He originally wanted to sell the company his special, “Jo Koy: Live from Seattle” in 2017. Four Netflix specials later, it’s clear Koy still holds a grudge, explaining how he had to shoot, produce and edit “Live from Seattle” all by himself. Koy makes light of the situation and serves it as a success story on how to never give up.
He also identifies himself as an “arena act.” In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Koy expressed how he belongs in Hollywood.
“I’m on a list of people who aren’t comics selling out arenas,” Koy said. “It’s like, Elton John, Billy Joel, Jo Koy and Coldplay. Like, what aren’t you guys seeing? And it hurt. It hurt a lot.”
Personally, I have always enjoyed comedy specials performed in small clubs or theaters. Shows performed in arenas don’t appeal to me as much because the comedian’s intimacy with the audience can easily get lost in a big stadium or arena.
With Jo Koy, he uses the main stage and a good portion of the special almost as a Ted Talk, rather than telling jokes. This was a turn-off for me, and likely other viewers. Entertainers in today’s society primarily use these large platforms to discuss their views and express their anger on specific topics instead of delivering humor and crushing an audience with laughter during their time on stage. A comedian like Dave Chappelle is the only one in my eyes who has mastered the technique of discussing real-world problems while also making us laugh in getting the message across.
Jo Koy still manages to get his crowd to work in a big arena. He eventually locks in on a married couple, using them as a launchpad for his bit on sleep apnea and how embarrassing it is for men to address the illness, especially having to wear a big mask when sleeping next to their partner. Koy also offers material regarding generational differences with today’s kids, especially when it comes to his son. He discusses how technology is in the palm of Gen Z’s hands and how easy it is to download movies; as opposed to Koy’s childhood, when he had to wait at a Blockbuster for six hours to get the new film that was coming out that week on VHS.
“Jo Koy: Live from the Los Angeles Forum” brings cultures together and pushes the concept that we as people are all the same, even though we may look different.
“Turn the lights off, and we’re all the same,” Koy says. “But when we turn on the lights, all of a sudden, we separate ourselves.”
For long-time fans, it is exciting to see their favorite comedian back on stage, continuing to evolve as a performer as he pursues more significant projects in the process of becoming an even bigger star.
Jo Koy’s Special is now streaming globally on Netflix.
Featured photo courtesy of @jokoy on Instagram