By Ryan Meehan
Comedian Henry Cho’s TV and film credits include appearances on NBC’s The Tonight Show, CBS’s The Late Late Show, and NBC’s Young Comedians Special. He served two years as host of NBC’s Friday Night Videos and had many guest roles on various network sitcoms. Henry’s one hour Comedy Central Special, “What’s That Clickin Noise?” is currently running and he can also be heard on Sirius XM and Blue Collar Radio. He’s also a regular performer at the Grand Ole Opry. Some of Henry’s film credits include Universal’s McHale’s Navy with Tom Arnold and David Allen Grier; Say It Isn’t So with Heather Graham and Sally Field; and Material Girls with Hilary Duff and Angelica Houston produced by Madonna. Henry was the keynote entertainer for The 59th Annual Radio & Television Correspondents’ Dinner attended by the Bush Administration and has worked extensively with Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Willie Nelson, Carrie Underwood and many, others. Henry’s clean comedy is so versatile that he can headline Vegas and then tour with Michael W. Smith in the same month. In 2012, Henry sold a special/pilot to GAC (Great American Country) in which he served as host, co-writer, and co-producer. “The Henry Cho Show” aired in Fall 2012. Henry awaits the chance to do more shows for GAC for the network, and he’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: Who were some of the comedians that you were really fond of growing up, and what was the first stand-up special you saw that really made you want to pursue the art form?
HC: I recall listening to Bob Newhart and Bill Cosby albums as a kid, and they were definitely my biggest influences. They are great storytellers and I know that’s why my style of stand-up is storytelling. The first standup I saw was actually seeing the older generation on Johnny Carson. The greatest thing for me is that it’s a small fraternity so when I was starting out I got to work with those guys I saw in TV: Seinfeld, Garry Shandling, Leno, etc.
RM: What stereotype associated with individuals of Asian descent
bothers you the most; and why do you think that is?
HC: Asians are stereotyped as being smart and hard workers…hard to let that bother you. Bad drivers? My dad and I were the only Asian men driving in my hometown and we’re excellent drivers, so the only bad ones I saw were white!!! I didn’t even know it was a stereotype until I moved to LA, but then it made sense – driving in that kind of traffic at high speeds and not knowing the language to read all of the signs. I’ve been on mission trips to other countries and have had to drive…Even though I’m an excellent driver I know I stand out, as I try to figure out if I’m going the correct way.
RM: Why is working clean so important to you? Is it more than just the compensation that will come with the ability to do more corporate gigs?
HC: I’m a Christian – bootom line – so being clean isn’t really an issue. I’ve never billed myself as a “Christian Comedian”, I’m a comedian who happens to be Christian because “Christian Comedians” aren’t funny. That’s not meant as a dig – a lot of those guys are my pals – It’s just a specific audience for them so mainstream doesn’t work as well for them. I still work Vegas every year – even Sin City needs clean comedy. My act is the same there as it is in a church. It’s clean, but it’s adult humor. The fact that corporate gigs are more available due to my clean act is only a bonus, thankfully.
RM: What separates your comedy from that of other comics whom you would consider to be your counterparts? How were you able to create differentiation in your own act as opposed to that of other performers?
HC: Wow, my peers have changed throughout my career, as most are big movie stars and actors now as we made different choices along the way. As far my stand-up peers, the biggest difference is I’m an Asian with a Southern accent…So that sticks in folks’ minds even if they don’t recall my name. I still have five or six jokes that have never been told before…ever…since no one has seen life from my point of view. Steven Allen – who invented The Tonight Show – was a big supporter of mine and told me that I had brand new jokes, something he hadn’t heard in decades…As most of our jokes are just versions of his anyway.
RM: As a father, how comfortable are you with sharing stories about
your family on stage?
HC: As long as it doesn’t put negative or false light everyone is fair game…except my mother. My Dad told me when I started never to make fun of her, so I haven’t…ever!
RM: What are the best and worst aspects of working on a film set? In your opinion, which is easier to do: Film or television?
HC: TV is easier: Rehearse for a week from 10AM to 3PM, shoot it on Thursday Night, have a three day weekend until you table read the next script on Monday at noon. Films are harder but also a lot of fun, I’m blessed to have been involved in a few but you get paid to wait. So being able to hang out and be ready when it’s action time is the key. It takes all day to shoot a short scene so you have to be on and off all day long. It’s still not a hassle when you put it into perspective…I roofed an entire neighborhood one summer while in college. Acting in a movie is way cushy. Films don’t really work for our family nowadays, going on location for 2-3 months isn’t going to work for me. Not that Spielberg is calling me daily, but I’ve not been pursuing films as I could or should. Once the kids are a bit older, I’ll hopefully get to do some more.
RM: I noticed that your Twitter account doesn’t consist of many jokes at all…it’s usually just updates on where you are working and links to buy tickets. Do you avoid using Twitter as somewhat of a joke palate because you don’t want to Tweet something that you can use in your act; or do you simply view it as a business tool instead of something used to sharpen your comedic chops?
HC: I view social media as a work tool, I really don’t have time to put out a bunch of stuff that needs conversations back and forth. I wish I had more time to man the computer but with three and all they do, there just isn’t time for it.
RM: What’s up next for you in 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the
works that we should know about?
HC: I have a non-scripted pilot in the works to shoot early 2015 so I’m excited about that. If it goes I won’t even have to uproot my family…and you can’t put a price on that.
Official Website: http://www.henrychocomedy.com/
Henry on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HenryChoComedy
Henry on Twitter: https://twitter.com/henrychocomedy
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