Review: Jo Koy delivers stellar performance in Blaisdell return
  • Wednesday, February 20, 2019
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Review: Jo Koy delivers stellar performance in Blaisdell return


    Jo Koy performs during the first of four sold-out shows at Blaisdell Arena this month on Wednesday.


    Jo Koy performs during the first of four sold-out shows at Blaisdell Arena this month on Wednesday.


    Jo Koy performs during the first of four sold-out shows at Blaisdell Arena this month on Wednesday.


Jo Koy returned in triumph to the Blaisdell Arena on Wednesday. Playing the first of four sold-out shows he gave the enthusiastic crowd its money’s worth and more.

The crowd enjoyed every moment of Koy’s 84-minute performance.

Koy scored with new material and old but did much more than entertain with ethnic impressions and observational humor, with sex talk and physical comedy with a four-legged stool, with his popular 90’s R&B sing-along segment — and, of course, with character sketches portraying is his domineering Filipina mother and his son, Joseph, who is a teenager and wants to be half-black.

The “more” included sincere affirmations and positive thinking tips that could help fans change their lives for the better. Koy also shared some of the keys to his successful career — and told the crowd several times that you should never let people tell you can’t do something.


>> Where: Blaisdell Arena
>> When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 23 through Nov. 25
>> Cost: $45 to $55
>> Info: 800-745-3000,
>> Note: All shows are officially sold out; a few upper level single seats were available at press time

Koy explained that after Netflix told him it had no interest whatsoever in doing a Jo Koy comedy special he personally paid all the production costs involved in doing a full-length comedy show and then gave Netflix first right of refusal — Netflix bought it, and the exposure took his career to a higher level.

If he had waited for Netflix to decide he was worthy of a comedy special he might still be waiting.

I had faith in myself, weighed the risks and went for it, was the message. You can do it too.

On a lighter but equally practical note he told the crowd how to cook rice.

Above everything else, the night was a triumphant return to the place where Koy made his Hawaii debut in 2001 as the opening act and host for what has gone down in history as the infamous Snoop Dogg/Ludicris concert. Koy did a great set that night in 2011, but when he finished the headliners were nowhere to be found.

As time kept passing and the crowd got restive, Koy was sent out again and again to do something — anything — to entertain people who did not want to hear that Ludicris and Snoop Dogg weren’t there yet.

Time after time Koy came up with something that changed the boos to laughter, but the evening was a comedian’s nightmare.

Seventeen years later, Koy’s return to the arena was a comedian’s dream — and a delightful night for his fans.

Koy spoke frankly about his love for the Hawaii and its people.

Blaisdell Center management has announced the following rules are in effect for Jo Koy’s concerts:

>> Shows are scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.; guests should be seated by that time.
>> No food or drinks allowed on floor level for Saturday and Sunday shows (sections AA, BB, CC, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, N, P, S and T).
>> No photography of any type — including cellphone photography — allowed inside the arena. Anyone caught using a cellphone will be ejected and not be allowed to return.
>> All concession sales will be cash-only.

“This is what the mainland wants to be,” he told the crowd. They were with him all the way.

Koy commented on the local love of rubber slippers, the use of pidgin phrases such as “Shoots, brah!” and “da kine,” and the popularity of jacked-up trucks. There were also some good-natured impressions of Hawaiian falsetto singing and hula.

Judging by the sheer volume of audience laughter, one of the most popular segments was Koy’s demonstration of how English is spoken as a second language by Koreans, Vietnamese, Japanese and Filipinos.

The most dead-on serious moment of the evening came when he explained why there are cultural similarities between Filipinos and Mexicans.

Other subjects for discussion included the reason Filipinos should be nurses but not doctors, and why his mother’s Louis Vuitton handbag is “the most expensive lunch box.” He commented that “Filipino women morph into Filipino moms” — and pointed out women in the audience who fit the “Filipino mom” profile.

A heckler who was yelling from somewhere in the high altitude seats become fodder for a few quick one-liners and was then shut down — to the delight of everyone but the heckler.

A Jo Koy show would not be complete without stories about his abusive mother and his teenage son. Koy’s current stories about his mother — “Jo-sep! Where is your lunch box, Jo-sep?” — are simultaneously funny and poignant as ever. The father-and-son sketches are masterful slices of family life as well.

Koy’s perennially popular impressions of the R&B singers of the 1990s had the audience singing on cue.

Opening acts Andrew Lopez and Chase Derusso received well-deserved applause and laughter as Koy’s guests.

Koy returns to the Blaisadell for three more sold-out shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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