One of the top touring comedians in the US, Henry Cho has rolled into the Addison Improv, leaving his golf clubs in the hotel room and providing his relatable, clean, and very funny act June 03-07.
As a staple of Satellite radio’s Blue Collar, Raw Dog and other comedy stations, Comedy Central specials and dozens of television appearances from his stand up on the tonight show to star turns in sit com’s and movies, Cho’s act blends stories of his real life and family that seem like they could, or may have happened to each audience member.
As the son of Korean immigrants, Cho grew up as pretty much the only Asian kid in a very white Knoxville, Tennessee. After meandering through five undeclared years at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, “I had five majors in six years, Pre Med, Engineering, Accounting Marketing and Advertising, sad thing is that’s true.” Cho tells Best of Texas. He gave stand-up a shot, walked out on stage for the first time on a Monday night, got hired on Wednesday and dropped out of school on Friday.
It wasn’t over night but his rise began touring in an old beat up pickup truck. “I put over 150,000 miles on that truck in the first year.” Driving between gigs from Florida to Wisconsin he has paid his dues and has the war stories of “Chicken Wire” clubs where the stage was wrapped with wire to protect the acts from the very rowdy guests to showing up at a club only to find a padlock and notice they closed for good that morning.
Six months in to Comedy Cho’s big break dropped out of the sky. In Atlanta the opening act for then rising star Jerry Seinfeld dropped out and Cho was one of the only available set-up men available whose act was “Clean”. “They wanted someone who didn’t swear on stage and I got the call.” Cho is proud to say in over 25 years on stage he has never dipped into the blue. “Jerry liked my act and when he got back to California he called up Leno and Shandling and suddenly I was on stage and hanging out with the best comedians in the world.”
“When I started out I was young and single so my act was about being young and single and being the only Asian with a southern drawl I used a lot of those experiences too.” Cho’s act has a relaxed, in control cadence and easy delivery of just one of the guys telling you a story over a drink. “Now that I am married and have kids, my act reflects my own experiences.”
Long time friends like JB aka J-only B-only or Jonely Bonley, who’s foibles are fodder to Cho’s act as are stories of “Arab Alabama” a small town that renamed itself rather than correct a typo by the water tower painters. “It is real, you can look it up on Google.” Henry laughs “Jonley is a real guy he’s my buddy’s cousin’s buddy and lives in Flat Creek Kentucky, and I have ruined his life, now even my boys call him Jonley no matter how much he tries to get them to call him Mister King.”
Today Jonely and some of the other characters only come out on request. “Tonight the audience wanted to hear a little of “What’s that clicking noise” (Cho’s signature bit) so I went that way. It is really about working with where the audience is and what they are expecting.”
Touring only limited dates now, and because of the squeaky clean act Cho also plays at “Christian” events and cruise ships. “I am a clean act because that is just the way I was raised. I am a Christian and again my act is a reflection of me.” Cho also says he has never brought his sisters or mother into any part of his act. “When I started my Dad said I could say or do anything about him but leave Mom out. So I did.”
“The first time I played Dallas it must have been 22 years ago, the old Improv down on Greenville, Now I am here performing so I can go golfing.” A smirk crosses his face “I golf every chance I have because I have to get out of the Hotel.”
His golfing, surfing and outdoor sports obsessions from his youth still are a big part of his act and life. “The first time I met Dana Carvey, he had heard more about my golfing than my act. He honestly thought I was a golfer who would do comedy on the side.”
The time to golf may be fleeting for Cho and the opportunity to see him in an intimate setting like the Addison Improv may also be limited. He only does six to eight dates a month now and Cho has signed a development deal with fellow Comedian, and host of the Late Show on CBS, Craig Fergusson to develop a sit com based on his experiences growing up as the only Asian kid in his southern neighborhood.
As a reminder the Improv is a bar and even though Cho’s act is not going to add new words to the vocabulary it still limits entry to adults.
Improv Comedy Club
4980 Belt Line Road
Dallas, TX 75254-7037