By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette
Comedian Henry Cho is performing at the Corsicana Palace Theatre Friday, April 8. Before the entertainer brings his routine to local audiences, the Navarro County Gazette had an opportunity to speak with him to find out where he finds the inspiration for his humor.
“I love doing standup,” Cho said. “That’s why I’ve been doing it so long and I haven’t stopped. You know, I’m the director, the editor, the writer, the producer…. I get to say what I want.”
“And I don’t share my opinions about political issues and stuff like that on stage, Cho added. “That’s not what my show’s about. My show, I try to make it about there’s a dinner party and something funny happened on the way there, so I come in and I talk about that. Then I’ve got another story and I just tell stories, and then we all leave when I’m done. It’s a very intimate feel even though it’s a big theater.”
For Cho, comedy is something he’s been passionate about for 36 years, his act being a reflection of his life, from his early days to being a family man. His comedy is part observational, part sharing moments about what people have said around him. Cho describes his show as adult humor, but clean.
“It’s something that still appeals to me that I can write a joke and try it the first time and it works,” Cho said of doing stand-up. “And I go: ‘I can still do this.'”
Cho was born and raised in Knoxville Tennessee, his parents having immigrated from Seoul, Korea seventy years ago. Cho grew up inspired by comedians such as Bob Newhart, who he acknowledged as being an inspiration for his story-based humor. Johnny Carson, Jerry Seinfeld, and Jay Leno also became mentors, peers, and friends during his career. Cho described British comedian Eddie Izzard as “Brilliant.”
Cho noted that he doesn’t watch his peers in admiration, or many comedians these days. He tours with a lot of openers, fresh faces that fit in with Cho’s own “clean comedy” approach.
“I can’t have my openers going off track and poison the show and I have to apologize for it,” Cho said. “I watch a lot of young guys, and it’s not so much for enjoyment as it is for professional reasons because I’m considering whether I’ll take them on tour with me,” Cho said.
Cho originally moved to Los Angeles, California in 1989, where he had multiple television vehicles with ABC from 2004 to 2006, and with CBS 2007 to 2009. When the latter series didn’t go, Cho took a break from television for about ten years, as he focused his priorities on raising his three kids, now aged, 21, 19, and 16, without having to uproot them.
“Had one of them been a disappointment, I would have been pissed off,” Cho said with a laugh. “But I can’t be mad because they’re great kids. I made the right choice for me and my family, and it worked out.”
After his break, Cho returned to planning a new project in 2019 with longtime collaborator and friend, Jim Hope. Cho was ready to get back into television when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, putting his project’s plans on hold. For the last six months, Cho has worked to regain the project’s momentum.
“We’re still trying to get all of that straightened out,” Cho said.
Cho has been keeping busy, however. In the last few months, Adam Sandler contacted him to voice a few lines as a bus driver for his next Nickelodeon animated film. Cho enthusiastically described the project as “Cool.”
Cho tends to tour more theaters than comedy clubs, which brings his act to Corsicana’s Palace Theatre. During a recent golf trip, Cho told his manager he wanted to do some shows in Texas. With his son attending college at Baylor, and musician friends having “raved” about their performance experiences in Corsicana the stopover worked as a natural fit.
Cho also added that he used to coach his son’s baseball and basketball team, noting he’s the only comedian in history to be able to pull that off. Cho would perform a show on Friday, then jump in the car to drive three to four hours to coach a game Saturday morning game. He was so dedicated to coaching his oldest son, he asked his agent to schedule every Friday off from August to Thanksgiving.
“He was like ‘You’re crazy,’ and I’m going ‘I’m doing it,'” Cho said.
Having a comedian as a coach provides it’s own unique perspective to games. Cho ran into the mother of one of his young athletes, where she said that her son’s fondest memories were with playing with Coach Cho, and the time being the most fun he ever had.
“I don’t get uptight about many things,” said Cho. “Even my daughers a few years ago made a bad grade on some test, and he classmate said ‘Your dad doesn’t even care about grades.'”
Cho laughed at the memory.
“Well, no,” Cho said of his more relaxed approach. “I’m not like your normal Asian parent. How’s that?”
Tickets for Cho’s performance can be purchased at www.corsicanapalace.com. His one-hour Comedy Central Special from 2006, What’s That Clickin’ Noise?, is currently running on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV.
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