Jo Koy on Comedy: "It's Truth"

Categories: Interview

Going back to your mom: I know you talk about her a lot in your act, but do you think moms like her are going extinct? You know, the mom that laughs at you when you fall rather than run after you with a fistful of Band-Aids.
Yeah. That's such a great question. You know what, no. Because as a parent, I find myself becoming my mom and my dad. And I've heard that a lot from other people. When they become parents, they always say stuff like, "Oh, I'm going to be a cool parent. I'm not going to be like my mom and dad." But unfortunately, the way life is, you just become that fucking person (laughs).

I find myself acting like my dad. I find myself being like my mom, and it's sometimes embarrassing, and then I have that attitude of, "Oh well, I don't give a shit," which is kind of how my dad was. He was like, "Well, I don't care if I'm embarrassing you. I'm your father." And now I'm doing that with my son. It's so crazy because there was a point in my life where I used to be really, really cool, and now all of the sudden I'm the nerdy dad. You know what I mean? Like, what the fuck?

Do you still embarrass your son sometimes with typical nerdy dad stuff?
Yeah! It's crazy. Like, how did I get here? When did I become my dad? And I know I'm still cool, but my son and his friends, they'll definitely make you feel like the most un-cool person in the world. And that's just because they're kids and they don't give a shit. They don't care about the special. They don't care about Chelsea Lately, or anything like that. They don't even see that. They just see: your dad's old, and he's in the way (laughs).

You've been talking more openly lately about your family's experience with mental illness and your brother's experience with schizophrenia. Is that something you plan on tackling onstage in the future?
Yeah, it's something I've been wanting to talk about for 10 years of my career. The cool thing about comedy is, it's truth, but it's also exaggerated truth. We embellish on a lot of stuff, which I don't mind doing with other topics, but my brother's life and my life with my brother was just so emotionally draining, and very near to me. It's hard for me to find that joke. I want to do it, and it's something I've been wanting to do for a long, long, long time, but I also don't want to disrespect my brother or anything like that. I don't want to turn his life into a joke. But that's the thing about comedy. I have to find it, and I do want to talk about it onstage. I think people should hear that side of the story and what I went through. But every time I tell the story, it's always emotional, and as a comic I want to be able to find that funny. At least something that people can giggle at and laugh at. But also though, wow, that's some pretty deep shit, right?

Yeah, I heard you talking on Alison Rosen, and you were saying how you don't want to sound like you're making fun of him. You want it to be funny. That's got to be a tough line to walk.
Yeah, man. You know what I mean? That's my bro.

Alright, well I think that covers it, Jo. I have --
Guess where I'm going?

Where are you going?
My son's basketball game, man. He's got a home game.

What position does he play?
He's a shooting guard.

Are you one of those crazy sports dads?
I find myself yelling out, "Defense!" and then I'm like, "Alright, shut up, Jo." I don't want to be that guy. But it's hard. It's so hard. I live vicariously through my son. I never had the balls to play any sports. I always loved sports, and, you know, I didn't have a dad at home, we didn't have any money. It was kind of rough. I never had anyone pushing me to do it. My son was always playing basketball, but he was scared to join the team, and I forced him. I was like, 'Jo, you've got to do this. You're going to love it.' And this was the year he finally decided to do it, and I am ear to ear, man. Smiling. Love it.

Jo Koy, Palm Beach Improv, February 14 to 16. Tickets cost $25 plus fees and there's a Valentine's package for $54.72. Visit palmbeachimprov.com for times.

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