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The Joke’s not on Jo Koy alone

By JOANNE RAE M. RAMIREZ, The Philippine STAR Published Jan 12, 2024 5:00 am

There is also some reason to boo the Golden Globe audience’s reaction to Jo Koy’s monologue. I myself didn’t find some of his lines funny, thought some jokes were cringy, hit hard and were too real—but having watched a lot of monologues by stand-up comics, including the Gridiron, I do not get why the audience sank Jo Koy’s ship even before it set sail. I thought religion was the only line one didn’t cross in a stand-up comedian’s tirades.

“I got the gig 10 days ago. You want a perfect monologue? Yo, shut up. You’re kidding me, right? Slow down. I wrote some of these and they’re the ones you’re laughing at,” Jo Koy said when he sensed he was sinking.

I honestly thought throwing his writers under the bus was part of the script, like an emergency parachute, but if it was not, it was just Jo Koy being desperate for a lifeline after his ship had sunk. Josep, say sorry now!

Jo Koy

I thought the Ozempic joke was quite current, though I didn’t get the purple part. I know it isn’t just my neighbor’s cousin’s best friend, who had lost a lot of weight, who was taking Ozempic secretly, that’s why it has reportedly run out of stock! So I found it relevant and funny to let loose the Ozempic joke onstage like pearls unstrung. I didn’t like the prolonged mention of the penis, nor the wording of Barbie’s cellulite and “characterization.” 

Oppenheimer is based on a 721-page Pulitzer Prize winning book about the Manhattan Project. And Barbie is on a plastic doll with big boobies.” But it’s true.

“The key moment in Barbie is when she goes from perfect beauty to bad breath, cellulite, and flat feet. Or, what casting directors call: ‘Character Actor.’” This joke was like bad breath on your face, honestly. But I wouldn’t take offense at cellulite because it is omnipresent, whether in Capitol Hill or Borgen or Batasang Pambansa or Hollywood. That’s why treatment centers flourish. I would leave the significance and gravitas of the movie Barbie and women empowerment to the acceptance speeches.

Jo Koy gets barbs for Barbie jokes.

I thought the dig on Taylor Swift was par for the course for a superstar and Time “Person of the Year” who just had one too many closeups at the NFL—and didn’t like it. Jo Koy, you didn’t have to apologize for that joke. “Big difference between the Golden Globes and the NFL. On the Golden Globes We have fewer camera shots of Taylor Swift. I swear.”

You didn’t have to apologize for being you—otherwise, of the eight billion people in this planet, why were you picked, albeit last minute, for the hosting gig? Not for giving boring lectures, certainly. Not for being safe and afraid to tread on sensitive issues. Or for not roasting celebs alongside your mother. (My son always teases me, by the way, for the way I text, using my index finger. Am sure other sons with mothers my age can relate. And if we laugh at the accent of Jo Koy’s mom as he tells it, it’s because we Filipinos and Filipino-Americans all over the world, hear that accent in our homes every day. Like how present the Last Supper and the bimpo on the back of children and male adults alike are omnipresent in many Pinoy homes and offices.)

Of course, the Golden Globes was not a Fil-Am townhall meeting. It was at Los Angeles’ “famed” Beverly Hilton. And yet Jo Koy strode into the lions’ den authentic and true to his persona. It’s possible the A-Listers that made up the audience thought he was below their league. Who dat? Perhaps to them, wala siyang “K” (or “Koy?”) to diss them. He’s no Letterman. But then again, shouldn’t newcomers aspire for the world, starting with the Globes? 

Whoopi Goldberg

In The View, Whoopi Goldberg came to Jo Koy’s defense. “It was a rough room for him.”

“These hosting gigs are brutal,” she continued, and she knows whereof she speaks. “Yeah, they’re just brutal. If you don’t know the room, if you’ve not been in these rooms before and you’re sort of thrust out there, it’s hit or miss. Now, I love Jo Koy. He, to me, makes me just crazy because he’s funny.”

“I don’t know whether it was the room. I don’t know whether it was the jokes. I didn’t get to see it. But I do know that he is as good as it gets when it comes to stand ups. It is not an easy gig.”

Her The View co-host Sara Haines had this to say, “I love JoKoy and I thought the whole time I was nervous for him because I think he’s so funny and I think it’s a gig. He’s kind. He’s good. You know, all the things. What bothers me more in watching this is, ‘Get a sense of humor.’ Because we need to protect these national treasures called our comedians. Because life needs them. We need to stop binding them in, fencing them in, and in that room, Jo Koy is punching up.”

And they just pushed him to the ropes.

Taylor Swift

But then again, Jo Koy should be able to take the criticism, to take what he dishes out as a living, just as we all hope those in the audience took his jabs good-naturedly. Of course, he was hurt, he admitted to US media. Who wouldn’t be?

But as often said by comics and non-comics alike, we learn from our failures as we do from our successes. The lessons from our failures are more indelible because they are seared into us.

Jo Koy is now more famous, more popular than he was before the Golden Globes, which by the way was a stellar night for Asian-Americans.

Steve Martin

His name trended on social media platforms, along with Taylor Swift’s. Even the Father of the Bride Steve Martin is in his corner.

“I tip my hat to anyone who steps out on stage to host a live awards show. It’s a very difficult job and not for the squeamish. I know because I’m still throwing up from the last time I did it in 2010,” Steve said in a social media post.

“So, congratulations to Jo Koy, who took on the toughest gig in show business, hit, missed, was light on his feet, and now has 20 minutes of new material for his stand-up!” he added.

How to parlay the name recognition he now enjoys into something that would make his Golden Globes night fresh material for new monologues is the challenge Jo Koy now faces. It is no joke.

But then again, as Whoopi Goldberg says, seriously: “Jo Koy is one of the best stand-ups on the planet.”

Josep, you can do it. Swiftly!