Comedian Jo Koy, who made history as the first Asian American to host the Golden Globes, is speaking out in the wake of intense criticism and backlash over some of the jokes he made during his opening monologue on Sunday night.
Overview of the Controversial Jokes
The backlash largely stems from two jokes Koy made:
A joke suggesting singer Taylor Swift should consider giving romantic advice in light of her experience dating high-profile celebrities and athletes.
“Taylor Swift, she knows romance. Taylor gives love advice – Taylor should have a dating app to tell you who you should be with. ‘Uh uh, he’s short term, he’s going to hurt you.’ I think you need to be with…an NFL player. That’s the real love. Have you seen some of those guys she [dates]? Not sólo quarterback, anybody. Punter, kicker, Gatorade dude. She don’t care.”
A joke comparing actress Jamie Lee Curtis to a Barbie doll and suggesting “most guys” would want to play with Curtis instead of their wives.
“Jamie Lee Curtis – I mean guys, she’s 64 years old. Give it up for her…Guys, you look at Jamie Lee Curtis’s net worth online it says ‘$80 million.’ 80 million reasons why most guys want to play with Jamie Lee instead of their wife.”
These jokes were met with criticism, including apparently unimpressed reactions from Swift herself in the audience. Many have called the jokes sexist and perpetuating negative stereotypes.
Koy Defends Himself in Multiple Interviews
In interviews over the past couple days, Koy has directly addressed the backlash and defended the intent behind his controversial jokes:
He stands by supporting Taylor Swift and other women:
“I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan. I support her and all the women that were included in my monologue where I wanted to celebrate from Barbie to Taylor Swift and Jamie Lee Curtis,” he told E! News.
He says the jokes were meant to celebrate women:
“The intention of calling out Taylor Swift and talking about her dating life was to highlight how amazing she is and the knowledge she must have when it comes to her experiences dating some of the top athletes and high profile celebrities over the years,” he told ET.
“The joke was that she somehow found a way to date all these big names and she must have incredible knowledge when it comes to relationships.”
He admits his delivery may have missed the mark:
“I love Taylor Swift. I’m a fan. Some people missed the joke. Maybe the delivery wasn’t clear enough for them,” he told Rolling Stone.
He says he has “no regrets” but the reaction stings:
“I mean look, it hurts… I’m not going to sit here and lie to you, it does hurt,” he told Mediaite.
“I always got to stand on what I’m doing is right. I feel like the intention was to make people laugh and celebrate women,” he added.
Background and Lead-up to Koy Hosting the Globes
To understand the context of the backlash, here is some background on Jo Koy and the lead-up to his hosting the prestigious Golden Globes awards:
Koy is a very successful stand-up comedian who has gained a big platform in recent years. He has a popular weekly podcast and has performed multiple Netflix comedy specials.
He was announced as host of the 2024 Golden Globes back in October 2023.
This was a noteworthy selection as Koy became the first Asian American host in Golden Globes history.
“Seeing someone like me host the Golden Globes is a big moment for a lot of people,” he told the LA Times last week. “I get messages all the time from people saying, ‘you’re representing us.’ I don’t take that lightly.”
In pre-Globes interviews, he discussed looking to comedians like Chris Rock and Ricky Gervais for advice on hosting a major awards show. He specifically mentioned Gervais warning him that hosting awards shows is very difficult these days with audiences being much more sensitive.
Entering his hosting gig, expectations were high for Koy to positively represent diversity as an Asian American pioneer in the role.
Immediate Reactions to Koy’s Monologue Performance
Koy’s monologue itself on Sunday night drew very mixed reactions:
The Taylor Swift joke was met with particular backlash, especially after cameras showed an apparently unamused Swift, who ended up leaving the event early that night.
Some other jokes also fell flat, including the Barbie/Jamie Lee Curtis joke which elicited groans. Koy has admitted “it was a tough room.”
However, other jokes landed very well, including some roasts of celebrities like Jeremy Renner in the audience.
What Happens Next
In the aftermath, Koy is facing further criticism but also some support from comedy peers:
Veteran comedians like Howard Stern and Kevin Hart have defended Koy, arguing comedy is becoming impossible today with audiences being too sensitive.
“There’s a freedom being taken away from comics that I don’t think is fair,” said Stern.
Meanwhile, others argue Koy’s jokes reflected poorly on Asians and that there should be more accountability.
“If that sets back the Asian American community, that’s the sort of thing people have to own up to,” wrote Jenn Fang in Reappropriate.
Koy maintains he is proud of representing Asians as Golden Globes host. Moving forward, he says this experience will only make him work harder.
“I’m still going to tell my jokes. And it’s only going to get better,” he told GMA.
So while the backlash continues from some circles, Koy remains largely defiant and has received significant support. Most expect he will continue his hugely popular comedy career largely unimpeded. The Golden Globes debacle will likely be just a blip as the pioneering Asian American comedian keeps rising.
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