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The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Jo Koy flopped as the Golden Globes host, but I’m not surprised

via Netflix
Jo Koy at his 2022 stand-up comedy special featured in Netflix, “Jo Koy: Live At the Los Angeles Forum.”

The laughs at the 81st Golden Globes Awards felt just as plastic as a Barbie doll. And unlike Barbie, who has an expanding resume with over 200 occupations, stand-up comedian Jo Koy can’t seem to take on a mere two; stand-up comedy, and now more recently, show hosting.

Koy was roundly criticized for his opening monologue, where multiple jokes fell flat and were met with unamused audience reactions, making his performance another cringeworthy pop culture fail. However, as one of the few people who followed Koy’s comic career prior to the Golden Globes Awards, I’m not surprised that his monologue was as distasteful and unfunny as it was.

Koy’s attempt to poke fun at nominated films and actors didn’t impress attendees, who failed to fake smiles during audience screen captures. Since Koy often relies on making fun of his Filipino mom to get laughs during shows, hosting was clearly a new experience for him.

What made me internally scream the most were the sexist jokes about the “Barbie” movie: “[The movie] ‘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!”

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Ironically, Koy’s joke falls into the themes that “Barbie” criticizes: Patriarchal norms based in part on unrealistic beauty standards, and living in a male-dominated world. A woman (or female doll, I guess), going through a self-discovery journey to find her purpose in the world is little more than “boobies,” to put it in Koy’s words.

Even though Koy mentions in his monologue that he “really did love ‘Barbie,’” writing jokes that contradict an award-winning movie’s plot feels insulting to its creators. Imagine trying to write a book report with a book you’ve only read the back cover summary of — you’ll only write about the plot superficially, and miss the overarching message.

When I thought it couldn’t get worse than outright sexism on national television, Koy unfortunately proved me wrong. Going from the unpalatable “Barbie” jokes, Koy roughly transitioned to a defensive, off script ramble mid-monologue:

“Some [jokes] I wrote, some other people wrote,” said Koy. “I got the gig 10 days ago, and you want a perfect monologue? You’re kidding me, right? I wrote some of these, and they’re the ones you’re laughing at.”

Sure, you weren’t in a room writing alone, but at the end of the day, can’t you discuss and pick what to and what not to say? Critics were also quick to point out the moment’s immaturity, including Filipino television presenter Gretchen Ho.

“Hosts are always, always responsible for their scripts,” Ho later wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “Whether it’s your own or not, at the end of the day, it’s your face and career on the line. This was such a huge stage, and a wasted opportunity.”

Yes, I understand that Koy only got less than two weeks to prepare for the Golden Globes Awards. While past hosts have gotten months to script and practice their jokes, Koy told the Los Angeles Times that he and his three other writers met just a day before the Golden Globes Awards aired. Koy also noted that “it’ll take [him] a year to write an hour [of jokes].” Hosting the Golden Globes Awards with a 10-day turnaround was probably not on Koy’s 2024 bingo card.

But Koy facing backlash over his work isn’t a new concept — his comedy, often poking fun at his childhood experiences as a Caucasian-Filipino American, almost always includes a mocking version of his mom’s Filipino accent.

Koy’s comedy takes me back to the typical Asian stereotypical jokes: “Chinese sounds like ching chong!” or “don’t let Asian grandmas drive on the highway!” Other than being overused, I hate that the punchline runs on making fun of an ethnicity unfairly. To make those dry, cliche jokes funny, he adds a touch of personalization stemming from his Filipino family dynamics — or, more accurately, his mom’s broken Filipino accent.

What people find most problematic about his accent-oriented jokes is the fact that his lines themself aren’t usually what get his crowds laughing, but the mocking of how he perceives an Asian immigrant trying to communicate in English, presumably their second language. Stripping the silly, broken accent from Koy, there’s no punchline to his jokes.

“[At the Golden Globes Awards, Koy] didn’t have his crutch, or his accent, to rely on,” Asian-American Tiktoker and media critic @Soogia1 posted. “Instead, he sat there and made the most corniest, sexist, juvenile jokes. He’s not funny — the accents he does are funny.”

As another Filipino American, I can see why Koy’s career is successful by making fun of being Filipino; joking about anecdotal moments with his mother has undoubtedly become a classic for Koy because it’s easy observational humor (joking about everyday aspects people tend to avoid discussing) for Asians looking for a quick, relatable laugh.

Still, it’s ultimately his out-of-place sexist jokes and immature defensiveness that have made me further uninterested in Koy’s humor, and reflect on his past Filipino accent mocking.

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Ashley Tumacder
Ashley Tumacder, Staff Writer

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