Comedian talks idols, Twitter and his DJing mom

Comedian Jo Koy, who spent three days at the Houston Improv earlier this month, is promoting his latest Comedy Central special, "Jo Koy: Lights Out." | Courtesy of

Before his set at the Houston Improv, we were able to talk with comedian Jo Koy, who has been on Comedy Central, “Chelsea Lately” and “The Tonight Show.” The California native gave us a ring and talked to us about his material, writing and his DJ mom.

The Daily Cougar: It’s a pleasure to talk to you  — lots of people wanted to do this interview, so I had to kill them all to get this.

Koy: Good, I am talking to a murderer. I love it.

TDC: You have been doing this for a number of years, so for your material do you sit down and write it or do you just come up with it on the spot?

Koy: It’s funny because when I first started comedy, I used to jot a lot of stuff down trying to figure out the structure of the joke until the point I was getting comfortable on stage and being more conversational. Then it was like, well, I am talking about my mom anyways, so how hard is that to write about anyway? Then I talk about my son, and how hard is that?

TDC: Most of your stuff then is more autobiographical.

Koy: Yeah. It’s kind of like the stories that my mom or son give me. I will just elaborate a little bit, and I’ll soup it up a bit, but for the most part it’s pretty much my life. It’s pretty much what happens, you know? It’s current and up to date on what’s going on in my family — as dysfunctional as it is.

TDC: In your sets you discuss how your parents were against you doing standup. Would you let your son try it out?

Koy: Oh yeah, in a heartbeat.

TDC: Or he could be a DJ like your mom.

Koy: Yeah. That is crazy that you even know that! Yeah, she is 66 and decided to become a DJ — so go for it, mom.

TDC: Will she be playing Kanye all day?

Koy: Oh, man! That would be hilarious, my mom just playing Kanye all day and some Jay-Z at the same time. (In his mother’s voice) “This is the new track from Kanye West.”

TDC: That would be great, so what’s your most memorable television appearance so far?

Koy: My most memorable one is “The Tonight Show” — that was the one that changed my life. I was already 15 years into standup when I got (it), and I was still working part time jobs everywhere, you know what I mean? I felt like I was going nowhere. Then I did “The Tonight Show” and it was over with. I got gigs on top of gigs; I was working the road; I got a commercial deal, you know? A lot of good things happened because of that. That’s my most memorable TV performance. It can never be topped, that was it.

TDC: Did that land you with Chelsea (Handler) or was that something else?

Koy: Oh, no, me and Chelsea were friends before that.  We met through Jon Lovitz. I met her six years ago and “The Tonight Show” was five years ago. I knew Chelsea back in the day when she knew nobody. Now she’s got all of Hollywood’s money, it’s crazy. She is so powerful now.

It’s great to see that, great to see your friend blow up like that right before your eyes. It felt like overnight, you know what I mean? And now, seeing what it is now, it’s like a well-oiled machine. She is the driver of this machine, and I am happy to be a part of it. I call her the new Johnny Carson and it helps you on the road.

TDC: Do you prefer that or do you still like being on the road doing the standup club gigs?

Koy: Oh, definitely standup. It’s my heart (and) my passion. I love the stool, I love the bottled water, I love the microphone, I love the clubs I get to go to in different cities. The different reactions from different crowds for different jokes you know. I love it man.

I love being creative and spontaneous and being vulnerable. You can only get that from being on stage, you know? I love being self-deprecating and talking about myself. I love it when people relate to my stuff, you know what I mean? I love it when people come up to me and talk about my mom — even though they are not Filipino, they can relate.

TDC: Yeah, my mom is Mexican, but I can relate a lot.

Koy: Yeah, exactly. Everyone gets it, so it doesn’t matter if your mom is Latina or my mom is Filipina, they are still moms and do crazy shit and everyone gets it. Just like my mom playing with the Wii, everyone just comes up to me and says, “Yeah my mom plays the Wii,” or, “My grandma plays the Wii.” It’s the same shit your mom does, and it’s cool to see that, you know?

TDC: So you started with Jon Lovitz. Oh, I heard your Lovitz impression by the way. It is dead on.

Koy: (In his Lovitz voice) “Jon Lovitz.” He made me impersonate him in front of (himself). It was the weirdest thing, like if one of his friends would come to the show, he would be like, (Lovitz voice) “Okay Danny, you have to see him do me. It’s hysterical.”

TDC: I had no idea anyone could do a Jon Lovitz impression.

Koy: Well, that’s my idol, which is so crazy because when I was a kid I used to impersonate him in school because all I used to watch was “Saturday Night Live” — and he was kind of the man (on there) at that time. I used to impersonate him all the time.

TDC: What are things you stay away from during your sets?

Koy: The only thing I never really enjoyed doing was political. I enjoy listening to it, but I never really got into talking about it. It was the craziest thing. When I was younger I would try it, but I never enjoyed it.

The stuff I really like to do is talk about my family. I was really into (Bill) Cosby and Eddie Murphy, and how they always talked about their aunts and their uncles and their children, and I just would sit there and laugh. It’s kind of cool because now I see like 15-year-old kids yell things to me, like “Ting Ting” and “Josep,” and I was like, “Wow, that was me when I was 15 talking about chocolate cake.” It’s kind of cool; it’s like seeing this whole cycle of life. you know?

TDC: You just took credit for the next big comedian.

Koy: No, not at all. When I see those kids, I see myself. When I was 15, I was so into standup and it was cool because that style of standup was relatable at that age, you know? You aren’t really into politics at 15. You want to see a standup comic talk about 15-year-old shit.

TDC: Are you addicted to Twitter?

Koy: Yeah, I am more on Twitter than I am on Facebook. I can’t even remember the last time I opened my Facebook. All my Facebook is attached to my Twitter anyway, so if I use Twitter I link it to my Facebook. It’s kind of crazy, man.

TDC: Then it is you on the receiving end of Twitter?

Koy: Yeah, man, it’s all me. My sister helps me with my Facebook, but Twitter is all me. I do it through my phone, and I am always answering. When I am on the plane I just sit there and reply to people.

TDC: Do you have anything coming out soon?

Koy:  My DVD just came out ( the COMEDY CENTRAL original stand-up special, “Jo Koy: Lights Out”). You get the whole package—my first DVD (“Jo Koy: Don’t Make Him Angry”) and my second one, and a free shirt, and a bag and all kinds of shit.

TDC: Where can people get it at?

Koy: Just go to

TDC: Thank you so much for your time.

Koy: Oh, dude. It was nice talking to you, man.

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