Comedian Jo Koy lived in the Philippines between the ages of 6 and 11. During that time, the very funny and very impressionable young boy learned to love the comedy of Filipino variety shows. Now in his new Netflix special “In His Elements,” Koy showcases his culture through music, dance, food and of course, comedy.
“Netflix offered me this special and I said, ‘Let me go to the motherland.’” Koy says. “Not only are they going to hear about my culture, but they get to see it.”
Koy says he was heavily influenced by the slapstick variety shows of his youth when he came up with this special. So he recruited Filipino Americans that live in the U.S. and had never been to the Philippines to share their talent on his special.
“I brought dancers. I brought producers. I brought comedians. And we just put together one whole show.”
Koy’s self-deprecating comedy centers on his Filipino culture and his family. And anyone who has seen his standup can tell you his jokes are relatable across the globe. And with so much happening in the world right now, he takes his role of making jokes seriously.
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“I do get a little more sensitive now. I understand that your words can be hurtful and I also want to make sure that when I do joke around that it’s something that’s not offensive.”
You might not know it, but he has a personal connection to what happened in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. His best friend Alex Roman is a muralist who goes by the name Donkeeboy. Roman was asked by Floyd’s family to paint a mural across from Floyd’s mother’s home in Houston.
“They did it in 4 ½ hours. They got the call at 8 p.m. and were done by 1 a.m.”
Normally when a stand up comic has a new special out they are promoting it online and in person to anyone who will listen. But Koy says it didn’t feel right to promote his show over the last few weeks. He says he’s spent the last week showing support online for the Black Lives Matter movement instead of promoting his show. Now he hopes the timing of the release of his special can bring some much-needed laughter to the world.
“I want people to laugh. I think now is the time for people to heal and go through the healing process. And laughter to me, is my way of healing.”
“In His Elements” streams on Netflix on June 12.