JK: Jo Koy is “Just Kidding” at two Pechanga Arena shows

Comedian Jo Koy performs two shows at Pechanga Arena, Dec. 9 and 10, 2021.
Comedian Jo Koy performs two shows at Pechanga Arena, Dec. 9 and 10, 2021.
(Mike Miller Photography)

Comedian Jo Koy is gearing up for an extremely busy 2022.

There’s his next Netflix special, which will tape in March at The Forum in Los Angeles.

There’s his new movie, “Easter Sunday,” which is loosely based on his experiences growing up in a Filipino-American family. It’s set for an April release and is directed by Jay Chandrasekhar (“Super Troopers,” “Beerfest”), produced, in part, by DreamWorks Pictures and stars a few of Koy’s friends like Tiffany Haddish and Jimmy O. Yang.

Then there’s continuing his current tour schedule, which will stretch into early 2022.

All in all, Koy says, he’s enjoying the ride.

“I’m enjoying what I’m talking about on stage; I love where I’m at now as a person. You see the maturity in my standup,” said Koy during a phone interview from his Dallas tour stop.

Fans who have tickets for one of this two San Diego stops on his “Just Kidding World Tour” can expect all-new material, some written before the COVID-19 pandemic, and some written during. Koy said that even though everyone experienced the pandemic and quarantine differently, it’s a universal event that everyone can relate to.

“I’m going to do my take on it and my voice on it (the pandemic), and then my personal experiences, with my son and school and everything else that happened during that year. I know people are going to relate to it because we all went through it. It doesn’t matter what color you are, what race, what religion — we all went through the same sh*t last year together,” he said.

Koy’s relatable style is what has hooked fans for so many years. He’s a proud Filipino-American whose family, including his 18 year-old son, Joseph, have played a big role in his act throughout the years. And it’s worked: Koy has been working in comedy for over 30 years.

His professional resume is lengthy: He’s had two Comedy Central specials, “Don’t Make Him Angry” (2009) and “Lights Out” (2012), and a few Netflix specials: “Jo Koy: Live from Seattle” (2017), “Jo Koy: Comin’ In Hot” (2019) and “Jo Koy: In His Elements” (2021).

He’s the host of the podcast, “The Koy Pond,” and he released a memoir, “Mixed Plate: Chronicles of an All-American Combo,” in 2021.

He’s appeared on numerous television shows and specials, including over 100 appearances on “Chelsea Lately,” the former late-night show on E! hosted by comedian Chelsea Handler, which aired from 2007 to 2014 and helped launched the careers of such comedians as Heather McDonald, Whitney Cummings, Loni Love and Fortune Feimster.

It’s the latter that has set the stage for his latest role: as Handler’s real-life love interest. The duo surprised fans when they confirmed their romantic relationship in early October of this year.

When asked what he thought his fans would most be interested in learning about during this interview, Koy didn’t hesitate.

“I’m pretty sure I know. It’s my girlfriend. She’s a sweetheart,” he said.

Because Koy and Handler are both currently on tour (she’s on her “Vaccinated and Horny” tour), the two have to fly around the country to spend time together.

“It’s hard, but it’s also really fun. You really fall in love even more when you have a chance to miss. And I miss her.”

Koy has nothing but praise for his girlfriend, whom he credits with helping him get where he is today in his career.

“She’s special. She’s a big part of my career. Part of the reason why I am successful is because of ‘Chelsea Lately.’ I spent seven years on that show. To this day, still people walk up to me and like, ‘Oh my god, I love you on ‘Chelsea Lately.’’ I’m like, ‘That show hasn’t been on in six years, what are you talking about?’ But that’s how much of an impact that show was.”

“And Chelsea hand-picked me,” he continued. “We were friends before the fame. We were friends before anything, before her money and her fame. That’s a real thing. You don’t come across those often.”

He said his close friendship with Handler was what prevented him, initially, from making a romantic move.

“Of course, I had a crush on her, but I would never tell her that. I wanted to maintain that friendship and that love and that bond that we had as friends. I wanted to have my friend Chelsea, who I’ve known before any of this sh*t. And now look, now I get to say I love her.”

Handler said on an episode of her podcast, “Dear Chelsea,” that romance didn’t blossom between the two of them right away. They hadn’t spoken in years when he approached her about writing a blurb for his book, just before the pandemic. But they began hanging out as friends, and eventually, things took a romantic turn.

Handler has built her comedy empire on being a tough, empowered and independent woman, but Koy seems to have brought out her softer side. She recently wrote on Instagram: “Jo has renewed my faith in men. For everyone who is still looking for their person, do not adjust who you are or make yourself smaller to find them. Be patient and never settle for anything less than you deserve. Your person is coming and sometimes — they’ve been standing in front of you the whole time.”

When asked about his girlfriend’s praise, Koy isn’t coy.

“I love it,” he said. “What a turn on for me, right? And let’s not forget the fact that she’s still tough and she’s still a badass ... She’s powerful, she’s beautiful, she’s funny — she’s everything that you would want for a partner.”

“Chelsea is a badass. I want you to know that, when I walk into a room, I’m the funniest guy in the room,” he said with a laugh. “I am! I just am. And I love it, I love to be the center of attention. But no one holds court better than Chelsea. She could take over a room. She’s captivating. She’s smart. Her wit is so amazing. And then her intelligence, it doesn’t matter what the topic is or what kind of room it is, she will meet the standard of that room and crush it. She’s a badass. When it comes to funny, I enjoy watching her because she kills it.”

Koy said there’s a strong possibility that he and Handler will work together in the future, although he doesn’t quite know the format.

“Creatively, we’re both on the same level, we’re both on the same frequency. Our chemistry has always been there. It’s been there since the start. Now we just want to make sure that we have something that complements what we do best... I just let her lead. I’ll chime in when I see fit. It’s like playing double-dutch with Chelsea. She’s got the ropes running and I just got to find my opportunity to jump in.”

Jo Koy: Just Kidding World Tour

When: 8 p.m. Thursday and next Friday
Where: Pechanga Arena, 3500 Sports Arena Boulevard, Midway District
Tickets: Tickets start at $37.50