Jo Koy pokes fun at ‘Iowa nice’ in Stephens stand-up

Nov. 24 is officially marked as “Jo Koy Day”  in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Tana Gam-Ad

Stephens Auditorium might have seen one of its most diverse group of Iowans on Friday night, all in attendance of Jo Koy’s latest show in his year-long Break the Mold comedy tour.

The famed Filipino-American comedian was accompanied by Iowa State alumnus Andrew Lopez and Break the Mold Tour mainstay Chase Derusso.

Andrew Lopez stepped on stage to the familiar view of Stephens, returning to Iowa State to perform after graduating back in 2012. He recalled his roots in comedy, crediting VEISHA for the start of his career and successfully warming the audience up with laughs.

“You guys, I haven’t been back here since the riots at VEISHA! I started that sh*t!” Lopez joked.

Lopez’s 20-minute opening act was filled with a number of references to his time as an aspiring Asian comedian in Iowa, mentioning Bud Light, better known as “the devil’s piss,” and calling himself “the Panda Express of Pella, Iowa.” His highly relatable remarks roused laughter and cheers from the crowd.

Additionally, with his family in attendance, Lopez found it appropriate to discuss his dating life and how he’s been doing in Los Angeles. The amount of self-deprecating humor, stemming from having a “much hotter brother” and being broke in Los Angeles, coupled with some pretty well-structured dirty jokes appealed to the audience, judging from the amount and volume of laughter echoing around the venue.

Next up was the Texas-native Derusso. His entrance was explosive to say the least. Introducing himself to the audience as “Lopez’s black friend! What up y’all!” the crowd immediately burst into laughter at Derusso’s personality.

He poked fun at the Iowan audience, stating his happiness that the crowd must like meat as much as him, referring to his southern roots.

“You know what? There are no vegans in this entire damn room!” Derusso said.

Derusso’s act consisted of jokes on self-love, movies and jokes about his own ethnicity. Using his Creole-French-Italian-black roots, he called himself the product of “one of those orgies on ‘Game of Thrones.’”

Much like Lopez, there was no shortage of dirty jokes and allusions to funny dating experiences worked into various places in his act. He also talked about growing up in Texas and his many encounters with armadillos, describing the animal’s ability to curl into a ball as “some kind of Pokémon technology.”

Derusso also seems to favor playing with words in his brand of humor, managing to fit in seven poop puns in one run, and expressing his horror movie knowledge after arranging at least 12 different movie titles to form a single hilarious sentence. The comedic display of wordsmithing drew a largely positive reaction from the audience.

He ended his time on stage with an impression of Mark Wahlberg in Planet of the Apes and as Harry Potter on his quidditch stick, paraphrasing Wahlberg’s lines to “Get your hands off me you damn dirty Snape!”

Finally, the main act took the stage to a large amount of applause. Much like his opening acts, Koy’s humor veered into R-rated territory with an abundance of dirty jokes, most of them done at his or his son’s expense. A notable one would have been the advice he gave to his son.

“Small d*** people should stop doing big d*** stuff and you know what?” Koy said. “If you’ve got a small d***, just fix your credit score!”

Another similarity between him, Lopez and Derusso is the fun they poked at Ames, Iowa. It being his first time in the city, one of their first stops was Hickory Park where Koy was floored by the serving sizes.

“I saw the waiter coming toward me with a tray and he put the whole thing in front of me,” Koy said. “Turns out, it was my plate!”

The crowd loved his relatable humor and the way he used anything and everything on stage as a prop to drive his point, such as using his stool as a “tray” and hoisting it over his shoulder through the whole bit. Other Iowa jokes ranged from corn and methane (easy shots, right?), to “Iowa nice” and finally, to the lack of things to do in Ames, Iowa.

It wouldn’t be a Jo Koy show without talking about his family, his son in particular. He switched between complaining about his son and his son complaining of him. He noted the generational differences between them and got a rise out of the audience with his stories.

Other Filipino family jokes made their way into his act, centered around his childhood and his mother. Another cornerstone of his performance was how he used the diversity of the audience to make fun of a number of stereotypes. Koy managed to joke about his own racial background, as well as many others, without being offensive.

At one point, he got into a whistle contest with a Mexican audience member—which the audience member won—after expressing his admiration at their ability to do so.

“The girls get the quinceañeras and the boys learn how to whistle, is that how it goes?” Koy asked.

Probably the most impressive part of Koy’s act was his ability to use the audience and make them feel as if they were part of the act. At numerous times during the show, he called out different members of the audience, including a certain gentleman who refused to take off his cowboy hat throughout the show.

Koy’s integration of the audience into his act paid off and gave him an opportunity to make a connection and helped with relatability. The crowd howled with laughter with every single audience interaction and made the whole show feel present and fun.

Koy concluded his show by combining Filipino stereotypes and crowd interaction in the ultimate Filipino goodbye, an impromptu 90’s anthem karaoke montage. The audience went crazy, singing along to every song. There isn’t a doubt that this night was definitely one to remember.