'I love to see people smile and laugh': Jo Koy ahead of Abu Dhabi show

Filipino-American stand-up comedian Jo Koy talks about the triumphs and trials of being a funny man on stage

By Areeba Hashmi

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Published: Mon 16 Oct 2023, 12:02 PM

Comedian Jo Koy will be performing in Abu Dhabi on Saturday October 28 and one can expect plenty of belly laughs to echo in the Etihad Arena on Yas Island on the day. Presented by Blu Blood in association with Experience Abu Dhabi and Yas Island, the show, which is a part of the 'Jo Koy World Tour' will be the comedian’s first in the capital and it will feature all-new material, which draws on the Filipino-born comedian’s heritage and childhood experiences.

City Times sat with the artiste ahead of the show to ask about the upcoming performance, what it’s like to be a stand-up comedian, the struggles in the profession and more.


“Everyone, my family, crew, and son are all super excited. Let's go to Abu Dhabi. It is something that we have only heard about or seen about. I am basing it on how it was in Dubai, but now we are going to Abu Dhabi, so I am excited to see it,” Jo Koy said, bubbling with contagious excitement.

One of Koy’s famous skills is connecting with people from around the world. He talked about what it’s like to be a stand-up comedian and to perform on stage. “Honestly, I was just on stage this past weekend and said the same thing. I've been blessed. I'm not going to lie. I'm not trying to sugarcoat anything. I've been really blessed, and it feels good. I love it. I love being able to engage and talk. If I weren’t doing stand-up, if I weren’t on stage, I would be the funny guy in the room. I would be the funny guy at the party. I would just be that guy. I love to interact, and I love to see people smile and laugh. It's always just been something that I love to do. Now, here I am, living my dream. That's it. That's really it.”


Koy says he was inspired by Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy on TV and knew stand-up comedy was his calling when he was nine or ten years old. Being American and Filipino, two completely different ethnicities, Jo Koy didn't let the differences hold him back from calling both countries his home. He finds it rewarding to be a stand-up comedian in this generation and gives credit to the internet and social media for bringing the two cultures together. Jo Koy said that 25 years ago, people in America would have had no idea about Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese, or people in the Middle East. “The internet has brought us together, and we can now see the world and understand that we are all the same. Thank God for the internet because now I get to see the world and understand that we are all the same," Koy says with enthusiasm.

Koy confesses that he has faced many setbacks in the profession, but he didn't let any of them hold him back. “The hardships are very, very cold. The fans don't know exactly what we go through. There's a lot of struggle and rejection. You must learn to separate yourself, your emotions, your ego, and everything from that and keep going forward. You must have those little flaps that horses wear on the side of their eyes when racing. You must wear that because your career will end if you focus on anything else.”

The pandemic period was very hard for him. Prior to that, he was touring the world and telling jokes in every country one could think of. Then, all of a sudden, it stopped. At first, he was sad, but then he was happy that he was in a fortunate spot. He was in a good place financially, and he was travelling 320kmph in his career. During the pandemic, he saw his son grow before his eyes during the most precious times. He saw his son turn 18 and 19 during the pandemic, which was beautiful, he says.

To all the fathers in the world, this is for you. “As just being a father in this business? Enjoy life, man. Don't let whatever you're doing passionately or business-wise, whatever it is, the career path you choose; life is too funny to take seriously. I'm not trying to make a pun or play with words right now, I'm being very serious. Life is way too funny to take seriously, and you should enjoy it. You should laugh at everything that happens during your day and just take that all in. That's how I look at life right now. I just love that I'm up walking around telling jokes. That's how everyone should be in life. Just be happy that you're up walking around and enjoying life.”



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