Golden Globes host Jo Koy says he’s writing the show’s jokes in record time

When Jo Koy was announced as Golden Globes host on Dec. 21, it was just a little over two weeks to air. “When they asked me, it was an immediate yes, I couldn’t believe this was happening,” Koy tells Variety. “And then I woke up and went, ‘Wait a minute. I have two weeks to write jokes!’

“Actually, I think I had less than two weeks because I didn’t get my writers until five days later,” he adds. “When Tiny [Fey] and all those other hosts got the gig, they had months to prepare. I’m literally looking at just days! It’s been a crash course in hosting.”

But Koy is relishing this moment. The comedian, who recently sealed a deal to bring his next two stand-up comedy specials to Netflix (his fifth and sixth for the streamer), says he’s aware of the symbolism behind hosting a major awards show ceremony.

“This is everything. It’s different for me. You hear that a lot right now, but it means a lot for someone that looks like me,” says Koy, who is half Filipino. “There’s a kid that’s Asian out there, or that’s half white/half Asian, any ethnicity. Being able to see this, it will indirectly inspire them. This is one of those ‘finally’ moments. I don’t want to address that when I’m on stage, but I think me just being on stage is enough.

“And that’s the kind of weight on my shoulders that I have. Because I need to represent them well,” he says. “So, I want to make sure my job is done right. I want to make sure I’m funny. And this wasn’t just a fluke. I worked hard for this moment. And I know that my family is watching, and my culture is watching and there’s a lot of kids that are going to be inspired by this.”

Koy was recently on his “Jo Koy World Tour,” which included taping his next Netflix special in Brooklyn this past November. His most recent Netflix special, “Jo Koy: Live At The Los Angeles Forum,” premiered in September 2022. His June 2020 Netflix special “Jo Koy: In His Elements,” was shot in Manila and featured local culture, as well as Filipino-American comedians, DJs and B-boys.

Although mostly known for his stand-up, Koy also starred in Universal’s “Easter Sunday” and has appeared in films including “Haunted Mansion.” But he says hosting a kudocast is a bit of an adjustment, and he has leaned on the advice of his writing team — including Jon Macks, Chris Spencer and Jeff Stilson. “I needed guidance,” he says. “And when I got them, I had the correct guidance. And then it was Hammer Time. It was like, ‘let’s go!’ I love what I’ve been coming up with.”

Koy’s comedy is very conversation and story-based, inspired by idols like Eddie Murphy, Dennis Wolfberg and Louis Anderson. Performing a monologue is a bit of an adjustment.

“Writing a joke about a movie has never been something I thought I’d ever do,” he says. “I just made sure that I wrote it the way I would deliver a joke about my mom or a joke about my son. I’m not putting my mom in the joke, but I want to make sure I deliver these jokes the way I would normally say it. I don’t want to change me. I want to make sure that it’s still Jo Koy.”

White Cherry Entertainment’s Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss, who have helmed some of the biggest events in live TV in recent decades — including the 2023 Oscars, as well as previous editions of the Primetime Emmys, the Super Bowl halftime show, the Tony Awards, the Kennedy Center Honors and President Biden’s inauguration — are producing this year’s Globes. And they know how to generate surprises on the fly. (Weiss famously proposed to his wife at the Emmys one year, creating his own memorable live TV moment.)

Kirshner and Weiss are putting that expertise to good use as the Globes returns with new owners at Dick Clark Prods. (Variety parent company PMC owns Golden Globes producer Dick Clark Prods. in a joint venture with Eldridge.) It’s also the first year for the Globes at a new broadcast home: In a late deal this fall, CBS and Paramount+ struck a pact to run this year’s ceremony Jan. 7 (replacing NBC, which had aired the Globes since 1996).

Another first at the event: Nobu Restaurants and chef Nobu Matsuhisa will cater the Globes for the first time, bringing his acclaimed sushi menu to the Beverly Hilton.

And there are two new awards this year, including a stand-up category that is clearly in Koy’s wheelhouse, and a new Cinematic and Box Office Achievement award that will give the ceremony a chance to bring in more star power: “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” “John Wick: Chapter 4” and “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One” are among blockbusters nominated.

Koy will have plenty of material to play with — including the “Barbenheimer” one-two punch of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” as well as the potential of a Swift appearance. (She may or may not attend, that hasn’t been confirmed as of yet.)

“Those type of situations, we’re waiting for the night of,” Koy says when asked if he prepared a Taylor Swift bit. “We’ve jotted down some ideas and played with it, but we’re concentrating on the ones that are there.”

Globes hosts like Fey, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Jerrod Carmichael and Ricky Gervais have also found some mileage in roasting the stars gathered in the Beverly Hilton — and, of course, the Globes themselves. Koy says none of that is off-limits. But he does know that the industry is in the mood for an uplift after a difficult 2023, coming off the Hollywood strikes.

“I’m going to poke fun, but I want to do it in a way where we’re still celebrating,” he says. “The industry got hit hard. Hollywood got shook. Everyone got shook. It wasn’t just the writers. It wasn’t just the actors. … So, let’s celebrate. Let’s enjoy this. We have a great gig. That’s the approach I want to have on this one. This is a great moment for all of us.”

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