This year’s Golden Globes host and Filipino comedian Jo Koy, who is facing backlash over his performance on the Hollywood awards night, has found a staunch supporter in his prolific peer Steve Harvey.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you might be familiar with how the Filipino talent’s opening monologue, taking a swipe at pop icons like Taylor Swift and blockbusters like ‘Oppenheimer’ and ‘Barbie’, has been labeled disastrous. But Daytime Emmy Award-winning host Harvey, in an exclusive interview with Gulf News, throws his weight behind Jo Koy with all his might.
“Jo Koy is brilliant, and he was outstanding at the Golden Globes. They [Hollywood] are the most arrogant, pompous people in the world sitting there,” said Harvey in an interview with Gulf News.
“It’s all about them. They want to win, and they want the spotlight on them. You can’t entertain celebrities. It’s [Hosting for Hollywood awards ceremony] the worst gig in the world.”
The former ‘Family Feud’ and Miss Universe pageant host called Jo Koy’s celebrity-filled audience “horrible” and tough to please.
“You are sitting there with a bunch of ‘I, Me, and it’s all about Me’ and people have been clapping for them wherever they go. Now all of a sudden, they are your audience. Horrible audience … I have seen this guy, and this guy [Jo Koy] is hands-down one of the funniest people in this world today. I saw the Golden Globes thing and I knew what he was doing, but they weren’t going to get it because they are not gonna laugh at themselves. They are celebrities,” he added.
To Harvey, hosting something like the Golden Globes or the Oscars is comparable to ‘instant death’. He believes that being a comedian in this woke and politically-correct world is incredibly tough with minefields every step of the way.
“Political correctness is what’s killing comedy because you can’t say anything about anybody anymore. Everybody is offended now. You tell a joke, everybody’s offended … Women get offended or every different pronoun is offended. I got no time for that man,” said Harvey.
Harvey, celebrated for his infectious humor, sagacity, and undeniable charm, knows a thing or two about hosting big events, with some even going awfully wrong. One unforgettable moment in his career played out in the 2015 Miss Universe pageant, where Harvey, as the host, inadvertently announced Miss Colombia as the winner instead of the rightful titleholder, Miss Philippines.
This misstep quickly became an internet sensation/meme fodder, drawing parallels to other memorable blunders like John Travolta’s “Adele Dazeem” at the Oscars. Despite the hiccup, Harvey’s multifaceted career continues to captivate audiences, while his truth serums continue to hit the bullseye.
“What celebrity or what rich person you know who thinks they are somebody big is gonna sit in the audience and laugh at themselves. Jo Koy is the real deal. There are people out there who just didn’t get it. I bombed before, but before you try to make me think I ain’t funny, I know I am funny. Don’t you dare to tell me I ain’t funny,” he warned.
He truly believes that Jo Koy will make the perceived recent Golden Globes gaffes as comic material for his upcoming shows as a stand-up comedian. “Jo Koy will come on stage next week and get a standing ovation, trust me. He will soon be back on the road and he’s going to write about this too,” said Harvey.
Harvey, whose credits include his 2009 bestselling book ‘Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man’, hosting hit game shows like ‘Family Feud’ and spearheading his eponymous daytime talk show, is a man who made it big on his own steam. His rags-to-riches life story where he famously battled homelessness and lived in his car is worthy of a Hollywood or Bollywood biopic. Folklore is rife with his survival stories like how he kept his food in a cooler in the backseat of his car, lived in it, and took daily showers at gas stations.
Steve Harvey's rags-to-riches journey:
But the best part about Harvey? He doesn’t shy away from his roots and believes in steering his own life. At the time of the interview in Abu Dhabi, when the waiter came to take our drink orders and asked if he had any food allergy, Harvey joked that people who grew up poor did not have the luxury of harboring food allergies. As a kid, he remembers having a peanut allergy, but his dad was having none of it. “He just kept feeding me peanuts so that my body made the adjustment … We were poor, and it’s a situation I have mastered. Remember, the internet doesn’t matter, the blogs don’t matter, and the politicians don’t matter. I come up with my own ideas,” he pointed out. And if his enterprising ideas are rejected, he doesn’t take it personally.
“If you want to kill a big dream, all you got to do is tell it to a small-minded person. That’s all you have to do, and that dream dies right away … So when I am telling somebody about my dreams and they can’t see it, I just go find somebody who can see it,” said Harvey.
And he’s got some big aspirations for the UAE. On February 24 and 25, he will host the Open Fire Food Festival, and in the coming months, he will launch Steve Harvey’s Inspo Academy in the capital. “I am not afraid to reinvent myself … This world operates on ideas and if you can be the first, the best, or the only – those are the three greatest chances for success … So I try to come up with stuff in one or two categories like being the best, the first, or the only. I have tried to be all three of them before too, and that’s a huge part of my success. My willingness to not be afraid to try new things … You have to lose your fear to be successful. You have to lose your fear. I have no fear of failure whatsoever.”
Just a day before this sit-down interview at a golf club in Abu Dhabi, he had just rung in his 67th birthday. He claims he’s wiser now and is still brimming with ideas and concepts such as the Open Fire Food Festival.
“I come here [Abu Dhabi] a lot and I love it here. They would show me these dishes, but I wondered: ‘what about barbecue’ … So I invited some friends of mine to come over to a Barbecue Pitmaster Champions. They are specialists in the art of barbecuing and we are going to exchange some great ideas,” said Harvey, one of the wealthiest entertainers worldwide. As of 2024, his net worth reportedly exceeds a whopping $200 million.
But the philanthropist-slash-entrepreneur-slash-entertainer isn’t ready to settle. “I just made the transition to my wife and said: ‘I am gonna get out of the appearance business. I am going to get out of the show business to pay-me business … I am already famous wherever I go, but I don’t want to be just famous. I want to find ways to help people … I want to also inspire people to dream and chase different career models and entrepreneurships.” And the worst piece of advice that he has ever received?
“The worst piece of advice is ‘Always have a plan B’. Everybody I know that had a plan B had to use it because they didn’t put their whole into Plan A. Instead of putting all their eggs in one basket, they worked on A and B … It’s like a pre-nup [pre-nuptial agreement] when you get married. Everybody I know who got a pre-nup had to use it. So having Plan B is the worst advice, but the best advice is to think the impossible,” said Harvey.
And before he let us go, he cracks up: “I just made that best advice up.”