When comedian Henry Cho was in a restaurant with fellow comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Gary Shandling several years ago, he was recognized by their waitress after hearing his Southern accent."She said, …
When comedian Henry Cho was in a restaurant with fellow comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Gary Shandling several years ago, he was recognized by their waitress after hearing his Southern accent.
"She said, 'You’re Henry Cho!’”
He laughed as he recalled the memory.
“Shandling called me the most famous unfamous guy there is," Cho said.
A Knoxville native, Cho bills himself as an Asian American comedian who speaks with a twang. He’s also known as a clean comedian, preferring to tell funny stories about family life.
He steers clear of politics, stating that today’s political environment is too divisive.
“I won’t touch the subject,” Cho said. “Besides, I’m a clean comedian. That sets me apart from the majority. My material reflects my life: being married and having kids.”
Clean comedy not only helped set the funny man apart from the competition, it launched a career that has lasted 33 years.
Cho was in Cleveland Saturday to perform at the Bradley Sunrise Rotary’s annual gala held at the Cleveland Country Club.
After living in California for many years, Cho now resides in Nashville where he and his wife raise their kids.
Although his children are Tennesseans, Cho said their accents now reflect his own after living on the West Coast for so many years.
“Now they can make fun of their relatives in Alabama,” Cho quipped.
Cho said his career was launched when he won a comedy contest in Knoxville, changing his life.
“I knew then what I wanted to do,” Cho said. “I quit college the next day.”
From there, Cho moved on to California where his career led him to hosting television shows such as “Friday Night Videos,” top-billings in comedy clubs, as well as appearances on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” and “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”
He’s also starred in a comedy special broadcast on Comedy Central.
Film roles followed with appearances in “Revenge of the Nerds III,” “McHale’s Navy,” and the Farrelly Brothers comedy, “Say It Isn’t So.
He said he feels blessed to have had a career in show business, although it was not something that was his primary goal in the beginning.
“Comedy chose me,” Cho said.
However, before the high-profile television gigs and film roles beckoned, he spent years working the comedy circuit as an unknown.
"There were some horrible shows, some horrible gigs,” Cho said, adding that he spent as much as 50 weeks on the road during those early years. “I did every gig there was to do.”
Now, after achieving success Cho can relax and focus on family life. As a result, he has cut back his work schedule to about 25 weeks a year.
But Cho still relishes being on stage, where he feels he is doing what he was put on earth to do: entertain audiences.
He also loves improvising while on stage, where ideas pop up in his head as fast as he can say them.
"That’s what keeps me going,” Cho said.
When not performing, Cho is much more laid back, admitting that he's less sharp than when onstage.
“My wife says she wishes I was that smart offstage,” Cho laughed. “But when I’m onstage, I’m on fire.”
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