Jo Koy fourth Netflix special savors the instant nostalgia for the epidemic, but it also takes us back farther in time for the comic as he reminds us of how hard he had to work to have his first hour accepted by Netflix and the reasons he choose his subsequent projects. There are lots of jokes about his interactions with his parents and his teenage son, but neither Easter Sunday nor Chelsea Handler is mentioned.
JO KOY: LIVE FROM THE LOS ANGELES FORUM: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: Nothing compares to the magnitude of headlining The Forum in Inglewood, south of Los Angeles, where Jo Koy has recorded stand-up specials. Koy fills the stadium with jokes about the pandemic, having sleep apnea, parenthood, and the urge to tell stories in his mother’s voice as he feels and treasures that energy and the two-year wait to do the concert. accent included.
What Comedy Specials Will It Remind You Of?: Whether you’re Filipino or Mexican, if you appreciate Sebastian Maniscalco’s physicality and intensity but your ancestry is more influenced by the remains of the Spanish Empire, you’ll probably enjoy what Koy has to offer here.
Memorable Jokes: Similar to Maniscalco, witnessing Koy act out scenarios and anecdotes from his life is what makes it fun.
When explaining sleep apnea, he first acts out his mother filming him snoring, then switches to showing young children what camcorders were, asks us to imagine how the sounds of apnea snoring might be gross and repulsive sexual, and finally pitches a front-row audience member as the star of an infomercial for CPAP machines. Joking, Koy said, “I’m selling CPAP devices at the merchandise booth. Not only was Jo Koy humorous, but I think he saved my life.”
Koy uses the Filipino custom of using tabo cups beside the bathroom to emphasize how much he likes utilizing humor to bridge cultural gaps. This also allows him to highlight all of the Mexicans in his audience.
Koy goes into great length on the dangers of using toilet paper for American women who still prefer it to bidets or tabos, complete with graphic act-outs and the term “clitty litter.”
When Koy returns to his son, he has two rather lengthy segments. The first is about how attitudes toward school water fountains are changing (which, in my opinion, Gary Gulman covered better in his 2019 HBO special, The Great Depresh), and the second is about how FaceTime and security camera apps mean his son can’t get away with too many mischiefs while Koy is away from home.
Our Take: At the end of his hour-plus performance, when he decides he wants us to remember what has happened since 2016 when he sold his debut special to Netflix after paying for its production and handling much of the post-production work himself, is perhaps the most memorable and impactful act outs. Koy is motivated to remind everyone that the streaming giant kept telling him no just six years ago, possibly as a show of courage for staying there to present his fourth Netflix special. He briefly apologizes (“I’m sorry I made this into a TED lecture”) before asserting that not everyone in the show industry or the rest of the world gets “a fair shake.”
He highlights one instance from that time when he prepared a TV performance to promote Life From Seattle only to be asked to stop using the Filipino accent he employs to imitate his mother by an unknown show or producer. You don’t want to hear her voice on the program, do you? Koy now asks. “Was the note for Jeff Foxworthy the same? Because of his accent, really. He’s from the USA. He is an English speaker.
All of this provides a richer background for Koy’s second and third Netflix programs. To highlight the culture and perspectives of Pacific Islanders, he specifically selected to film in Hawaii and the Philippines. In addition to his own Netflix pitch for an Emmy-worthy docudrama on Arnel Pineda becoming the lead vocalist of Journey, his Tommy Lee narrative is more than just an opportunity to market Philippine tourism. Heck, why not approve Koy’s series given the 2012 film Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey doesn’t seem to be streaming anyplace right now?
Our Call: I would want to see Koy or another comic arrive with a merchandise booth as elaborate and unique as the one he envisioned for this hour. STREAM IT.
Sean L. McCarthy covers humor for his online publication, The Comic’s Comic, and previously for print publications. Based in New York City, but will go wherever to get the scoop on ice cream or news. Additionally, he tweets at @thecomicscomic and hosts a podcast called The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First, which features comedians telling their backstories.