Like many famous comics, Jo Koy had early struggles at comedy clubs. But, unlike them, the half white and half Filipino comedian could only seem to book spots on ethnic theme nights like “Wonton Wednesdays” and “Asian Invasion.”
“There’s a lot of comics that had to do it. I’m not just saying Asians — Black people, Latinos, anyone that was ‘other’ had to do these themed shows. And it sucks,” Koy recalled recently.
Segregating comics may sound bizarre and offensive in today’s world but that underlying racism “baked into” the comedy club circuit was acceptable in the early 2000s, according to Koy. How he went from there to being a Netflix darling and having a movie deal with Steven Spielberg is part of the career journey Koy, 49, tells in his new memoir.
out Tuesday, is an ideal companion to Koy’s stand-up with its humorous — and at times painful — origin stories behind some of his most popular bits. The book shows how Koy’s mixed-race background ultimately shaped his brand of comedy and his determination not to give up on his childhood dream.
“I’m not trying to pat myself on the back. It was a long road,” Koy said. “And when I finally got to this point 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.’”