Wednesday 12 May 2021

Book ~ "Mixed Plate: Chronicles of an All-American Combo" (2021) Jo Koy

From GoodreadsWell guys, here it is - my story. A funny, sad, at times pathetic but also kick-ass tale of how a half-Filipino, half-white kid whose mom thought (and still thinks) his career goal was to become a clown became a success. 

Not an overnight success because that would have made for a really short read but an All-American success who could give my immigrant mom the kind of life she hoped for when she came to this country, and my son the kind of life I wished I’d had as a kid. 

With all the details of what it felt like to get the doors closed in my face, to grind it out on the road with my arsenal of dick jokes, and how my career finally took off once I embraced the craziness of my family, which I always thought was uniquely Filipino but turns out is as universal as it gets.

In this book, I’ll take you behind the mic, behind the curtain - OK, way behind it. From growing up with a mom who made me dance like Michael Jackson at the Knights of Columbus, to some real dark stuff, the stuff we don’t talk about often enough as immigrants. Mental health, poverty, drinking. And show you the path to my American Dream. Which was paved with a lot of failure, department store raffle tickets to win free color televisions, bad jokes, old VHS tapes, a motorcycle my mom probably still hates, the only college final I aced (wasn’t math) and getting my first laugh on stage. There’s photo evidence of it all here, too.

In this book, I get serious about my funny. And I want to make you laugh a little while I do it. I’m like Hawaii’s favorite lunch—the mixed plate. Little bit of this, a little bit of that. My book Mixed Plate is too.

I knew who Jo Koy was and had seen his bits on some comedy shows.  Recently I watched his own comedy specials and thought he was a hoot.  I saw he had a memoir out ... I like reading biographies/autobiographies so checked it.  And it too is a hoot!

Jo is a American-Filipino ... his father is a white American and when was in the air force when he met Jo's mom, a Filipino, when he was stationed overseas.  The family moved around a lot as his dad got transferred.  They finally settled in Tacoma, WA, where the family was one of the few non-white families.  To fit in, Jo used humour.  He loved watching stand-up comedians and decided that's what he wanted to do when he grew up.  His father suddenly left and Jo didn't know why and it left a void.  It made things tougher at home because his mother was now a single mom supporting four kids.  Things got better when his mother remarried and Jo got the father figure he was lacking.

The family moved to Vegas when Jo was 18 and he started working on his future.  He had some success but he knew that if he was going to fulfill his dream, he had to head to LA.  So off he went.  He married, had a child and quickly divorced, though he and his ex are still good friends and he has an excellent relationship with his son, Little Joe, who is now 18.  One of the things that drove him and continues to drive him is that he doesn't want his son to have the childhood he did.  So he works hard to ensure his son has everything he needs and wants, unlike when Jo was growing up.

I liked the writing style ... like his comedy routines, it was funny and sarcastic. I liked him as a person and he sounds like a nice caring fella.  But he also speaks from the heart as he talks about his childhood and the struggles and hustles to achieve his dream.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

At the beginning of each chapter, there is a Filipino recipe.  At the end of the book, there are lots of pictures starting from when he was a baby right up to him and his teenage son, Little Joe.

No comments: