Jo Koy coming to Coralville's new Xtream Arena after 2020's long live performance hiatus
Editor's Note: Due to new health directives in other markets included on the tour, Koy is no longer scheduled to perform as mentioned in the story below.
You only have to speak with Jo Koy for a few seconds to realize the promotional image for his new comedy tour — the comedian embracing a comedy show bar stool with the elation of a long lost loved one — understates how much he's missed live performances.
“I felt like I'd left my child for a year — it was like my first hug," Koy, referring to the one other live show he's been able to do since the COVID-19 pandemic came to the U.S., told the Press-Citizen.
The live show he fondly recalls was hosted by Dave Chappelle in Ohio earlier this year alongside other big-name comedians.
"When I was on stage in Ohio, it was literally just me freestyling and talking about what’s going on (in the world)," Koy said, expressing how much he's missed genuine, live laughter. "If anyone knows laughs, it's comedians, and you always know if (the audience is laughing) because it’s the end of the joke or if it’s because they’re feeling it.”
As liberating as that Ohio performance felt, though, he's been longing to get back into an arena show. Now, after months of watching and waiting, he's finally getting back onto the road, and Iowa will be one of his first stops.
At 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13, Koy will be performing in Coralville's recently completed, Xtream Arena, the first non-sporting event scheduled to be held in the arena since it's opening.
The event will be the second stop on Koy's "The Social Distance" tour, following a Nov. 12 event at Sioux City's Tyson Events Center.
Seating will account for social distancing measures, with organizers only planning to fill 30% of the Coralville stadium, according to Spectra staff. The arena has 5,100 fixed seats and a concert capacity of 6,600. All attendees over two-years-old will be required to wear masks.
Koy may be familiar to audiences not only from his June Netflix special, "Jo Koy: In His Element," but also his appearances as a round table regular on the Chelsea Lately talk show. In March of 2021, he plans to release a memoir: "Mixed Plate."
“When I was on the road, I wasn’t spending that much time writing it," Koy said. “During this quarantine, I was (writing) every day.”
It's no surprise that Koy's time has been freed up for writing lately — when the pandemic hit, everything stopped, Koy said. And just as his career was really taking off, too.
"I was on a world tour — I was on a record pace," he said. “I was about to get on a plane to Alaska when I saw on the news that Alaska was closed.”
Koy's live performance career was beginning to approach record-breaking numbers at the time. As his bio boasts, he holds the record for the "most consecutive sold-out shows for a comedian." He also hit No. 10 on the list of highest-grossing concert tours earlier this year, a list topped by Elton John and populated by names like Celine Dion and Jerry Seinfeld.
In spite of the setback, the news hasn't all been grim.
"You know what’s crazy is I was able to seal a movie ("Easter Sunday")," he said. "Steven Spielberg is on board and gave us a green light during this pandemic.”
Though life's taken him from growing up in Takoma, Washington, to staring in a feature film, it's still live performances his misses most. It's the thing he's found himself dreaming of over the past eight months.
"I love live entertainment; it’s been a part of human beings since the beginning of human beings — it’s documented that we love to be entertained — there’s just something about us — when we’re in the same venue together, sharing the same energy — it’s just undeniable," Koy said. "I love the fact that we’re going to go in a space and fill it enough for everyone to feel safe."
Editor's note: The following video contains language that may not be suitable for all viewers.