The folks at Netflix warned comedian Jo Koy: Once his “Live From Seattle” comedy special aired last spring, his career would take a dramatic turn.
But the Los Angeles-based comic had no idea the turn would come so fast and furious.
A month into 2018, he is seeing his shows sell out in record time — sometimes a matter of minutes. In most cities — including Tucson on Saturday, Feb. 3 — he’s adding shows; in Hawaii last October, he sold out 11 shows at the Blaisdell Concert Hall.
“It was crazy,” Koy, 46, said during a phone call from home in Los Angeles last week. “We beat Mariah Carey. She had 22,000 tickets sold, we had 23,500.“
“Ever since the Netflix special, this tour has been on steroids. We’re sold out until May,” he added, sounding like he still couldn’t believe what was happening to him as he marks 28 years in standup. “We’re doing multiple shows in most cities. It’s just nuts what’s going on.”
The Netflix moment propelled him from two-show-a-night weekends at small comedy clubs around the country to soldout nights at medium-sized theaters.
“I’ve always had a great little run. There’s towns I would do multiple shows. They were all comedy clubs, but I was hitting numbers like 13 straight shows at a comedy club,” he said. “It felt good, but I always wanted to do that one theater run, and that’s what this is right now.”
Koy plans to follow up with another Netflix special later this year or early next. He’s already written an hour’s worth of new material, much of which we get to hear when he plays Fox Tucson Theatre at 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday.
“You’re going to love the new stuff. This is all new. I’m going to hit them hard,” he said.
Don’t expect him to go political or too deep into current events. His comedy is centered on his family, particularly his teenage son:
“My son got ready for school today and I swear to God his shorts, I don’t think they’ve ever been cleaned. Ever,” Koy said during last week’s phone call. “He pulled them from underneath the bed and I let him go to school. ‘Whatever you want to do, Stinky, do it. I’m not going to clean your pants for you. If you knew they were dirty, you could have told me a long time ago to wash them. Now go look like you’ve been sliding into second base all day.’
“The fact that he’s 14, it’s just a world, man. It’s funny how drastically he changed from 12 to 13. It was like night and day. ‘Is this the same dude? Who are you?’ I’m living with this stinky man now. I never felt like I should be able to kick a 14-year-old out of the house just because of the way he smells. ‘Get out of here, man. Find your own place now, Bro.’”
And his Filipino-American mother:
“She still thinks it’s a ‘we’ thing, an ‘us,’ a ‘comedy duo’. I’m like, ‘Uh, mom, you know you gotta write these jokes, right?’ She’s like, ‘Yeah, Joseph, I think I should walk on stage and say hi to everyone.’ ‘What? What are you talking about? No’.”