It's one thing to tell a good joke but it's another to connect with an audience while doing it. So, would Jo Koy be up to the challenge?
The comedian took to the stage for his Just Kidding world tour at Dubai's Coca-Cola Arena on Monday, January 20. While no one would question whether he could make the room laugh, the real obstacle would be finding enough common ground to reach the many nationalities that filled the arena.
Koy took to the stage at about 8.30pm and opened his set by discussing his time spent in Dubai. His first takeaway? "You guys have created something even better than bidets, you have hoses," he said. "I'm bringing the hose to America!"
He also mentioned staying at the Palazzo Versace hotel and because everything was branded with the luxury fashion label, he'd have to take everything from the room. "My mum taught me well," he joked.
The Filipino-American then unsurprisingly moved on to the Filipino population in the UAE, which was larger than he expected. "I've seen my mum 90 times," he cracked, which drew laughs. It was also during this point Koy did his first impression, something we'd see more of as the night went on.
He also discussed his friend Mohammed who helped show him around. While he joked about the popularity of the name, he hit a more serious note by telling us that we should "spread love".
“There’s a lot of love here. Laughter is a universal language.”
Much like in his Netflix specials, Koy had fun with the audience. At one point, he mentioned how there was lots of laughter but pointed towards a corner and said "but there's one that sounds like a small chihuahua", before doing an impression. He also had banter with an audience member named Zack, who sat in the front row, and was just 12 years old. "You're in an adult setting now, it's time to grow up," he said.
The comic touched upon a number of subjects including different parenting styles, going to therapy, family grudges and relationship advice. Promising new material that differed from his specials, he succeeded on all counts.
He then discussed how different today's music was from music from his time. He mentioned 1990s RnB. "Music these days is gross," he said, explaining how music back then, and groups like Boyz II Men, had songs about "one woman". When the audience clapped, Koy quipped that was how he knew "everyone here is in their late 40s".
He then let the onstage DJ play some tracks from the 1990s and 2000s with pauses interspersed so the audience could continue singing. About an hour and a half after he took to the stage, Koy finished his set by getting everyone to light up the room and engage in a sing-a-long with their phones out to K-Ci and Jojo's All My Life.
It was a brilliant end to a night full of laughter. Koy earned his standing ovation. The 48-year-old comedian was funny and relatable without being offensive. The Coca-Cola Arena was an ideal venue to watch him in as the acoustics allowed the audience to clearly hear his every word. Much like the entirety of his set, he ended on a positive note: "I love you, Dubai. I can't wait to come back, I'm sure there will be, like, nine more malls."
We can’t wait, either.