Jo Koy on Representing His Race and Heritage in His Memoir and Netflix Special
With multiple Netflix comedy specials under his belt, Jo Koy has found much success as a stand-up comedian.
Being a half-Filipino, Koy derives much of his materials from his heritage and family. And to give back to the culture he belongs to, he has used his success to represent his race and ethnicity.
And his efforts haven’t been limited to just his stand-ups and comedy specials. He included recipes for some Filipino dishes, including lumpia and chicken adobo, in his memoir titled Mixed Plate: Chronicles of an All-American Combo.
Here’s a look at Koy’s love for his ethnicity and his efforts to represent his heritage.
Jo Koy on Representing His Ethnicity
Koy, real name Joseph Glenn Herbert, was born to an American father and a Filipino mother. Growing up, he had little knowledge about other Filipinos in the comedy circuits.
But like many comics from minority ethnicity, he faced many difficulties during his early days of getting into comedy.
“You come to Hollywood, and they have no idea what they’re looking at—as horrible as that sounds,” he shared. “What’s your story? We don’t get it. Where do we put you?”
During those days, Koy juggled as many as three part-time jobs and took whatever gigs he could get, even ethnic theme nights like “Wonton Wednesdays” and “Asian Invasion.”
For a long time, he did not stand out as a comedian. It was only when he started telling stories about his mother while mimicking her mannerisms and accent that he started getting recognized.
In a couple more years, Koy grew to be one of the world’s most known comics with his own Netflix comedy specials, as well as a memoir.
He previously revealed that he wanted to write the memoir to tell people about his journey to success despite the challenges that came from his mixed-race background.
“I’m not trying to pat myself on the back. It was a long road,” he said when talking about his book.
“When I finally got to this part in my career, I just looked at my manager. I was like, ‘Man, I would really like to tell people, you know, this struggle, and how hard it was to really get here.’”
Aside from writing about his struggles, Koy also talks a lot about his ethnicity and roots in his book.
Jo Koy with his son (Source: Instagram)
Koy also filmed his special titled In His Element in the Philippines. When talking about it with Good Morning America, the comic said he shot it in the Philippines because he wanted to share his culture while motivating his son.
“I get to talk about being Filipino, but I never get to show the world what the Philippines looks like,” he said.
“Growing up as a kid, I didn’t have any inspiration on TV like that. And I wanted that to be the inspiration.”
In recognition of his contribution and in honor of Filipino American History Month, San Diego proclaimed Friday, October 16, 2020, as “Jo Koy Day.”