Monday, April 16, 2012

Jo Koy's "Lights Out"


After listening to Jo Koy's "Lights Out" project, one can't help but walk away with a clear picture of how much he loves family. This is definitely a family friendly project - but not in the sense that you should bring it home and play it for your mother or 6-year-old niece. In this instance, I refer to Koy's family friendliness as his apparent affection for the three people he holds closest to his heart: His mother, his grandmother, and most especially his son. All of the stories contained herein incorporate at least one of the three aforementioned relatives.

Stories are exactly what you'll find here, more than one-liners or classic "set-up/punch" jokes. That's not to imply there aren't any laughs to be found. On the contrary. Koy is quite gifted at relating past experiences and he embodies each character completely (Bonus points are given to the DVD version of this project for allowing us to fully experience and appreciate Koy's facial expressions and energetic physicality).

A lot of his time is spent impersonating his mother and unlike Margaret Cho or Dat Phan who seem to rely on nothing more than a funny accent to get laughs, Koy flushes her out into a real person we relate to rather than just the crutch of "silly voice." His mother (AKA DJ Josephine) is just what a mom should be: short, no-nonsense, over-dramatic, and less-than-willing to lend a hand in the search for a missing set of keys. Yes, she is a proponent of tough love when it comes to her son, but she's also more than willing to come to his rescue when he's being chewed out by a disgruntled shoe store clerk.

When Koy introduces us to his grandmother we get a nice glimpse into how his family was influenced by her and just who in the family adopted which of her traits. Her sense of humor most definitely went to Koy, while his mother inherited the When-You-Least-Expect-It "ting-ting" grab. As touching as his feelings are for her, it never feels gimmicky or contrived and the laugh-out-loud tales that are shared don't lose any of their potency upon repeated listening.

And then, there's Koy's son. Despite the many funny and entertaining anecdotes his son has given him, Koy still doesn't hesitate to preface them with an amusing bit on why one shouldn't have kids. But, things happen, and when they do you end up with tales of month-long bouts of pink eye, a great re-telling of the first day of kindergarten, and one of the most awkward father/son air guitar sessions you're likely to come across.

One thing I admire about Koy's comedy is his all-around sense of inclusion. Despite the fact his audience is largely made up of his fellow Filipinos, he doesn't take that for granted and he takes time to explain the dynamics of his familial surroundings to those who might not be as familiar with his particular background. Unlike someone such as George Lopez who barrels forward with an "If you ain't Mexican, you're gonna be lost, pendejo" bravado, I appreciated Koy's willingness to stop along the way to make sure we're all on board.

Upon reviewing this project I listened twice to the audio recording and watched the DVD two times as well. My wife joined me for the second DVD viewing (which was my fourth go-around in total) and afterward she asked if he was one of the comedians I was planning on reviewing. I told her he was, and also informed her that that wasn't my first listen. "Wow," she said, "Four times and you still laughed out loud a lot."

"Yep," I nodded, "That dude is pretty funny." She agreed, and I think you will, too.

That Jo Koy dude is pretty funny.

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