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Allow me to introduce to you the King of Clean Comedy, affectionately called Mr. Clean. The man is Henry Cho, and he’s been successfully performing as a stand-up comedian since 1986.
Henry Cho has appeared multiple times on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Perhaps you remember him from his role as Steve Toyota in Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation, as Freddy in Say It Isn’t So, or as Ned in the Hillary Duff motion picture Material Girls. He’s been featured at Comedy Central and Great American County (GAC).
Henry Cho is live daily on XM radio’s channel 151, Laugh USA, Sirius radio’s Blue Collar Comedy radio channel 103, and Pandora radio’s PG Comedy radio channel.
Henry is Korean American; he was raised and still resides in Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s no surprise much of his material is derived from his memories and experiences as an Asian American who grew up in the south. He’s routines are hilarious.
Henry Cho is also a Christian. He shared his story with Rockin’ God’s House:
Henry, how do you manage to stay so funny and yet keep your act so clean?
I’m a Christian, so I like to think I’m pretty clean in everyday life. Since I don’t use foul language all the time, it’s easier to avoid it on stage. I’m nowhere near perfect, and I had my time as a single man, but since becoming married with kids, I’d like to think I’m walking a pretty straight line!
I loved your special on GAC, will there be another one anytime soon?
Hopefully. The powers at the top had a shake up, so after all this time we’re still waiting for the dust to settle. My goal is to do a family friendly, but still funny, show and to stay in Tennessee. So my network choices are limited, but we’ll keep trying.
You’re known as Mr. Clean, what made you decide to perform stand-up without the use of suggestive language?
It was a personal choice from day one. As I mentioned, I’m a Christian. I was a Young Life leader at the University of Tennessee when I started comedy, so it was important to be clean. Shortly after I got into comedy, I worked with Jerry Seinfeld. I got the gig since I was the only clean opener within miles. Jerry told me to keep working clean for professional reasons, if you can’t do a joke on television why spend time on it. He was great and took me on the road with him for several gigs. I learned from the best. You have to remember this was twenty-eight years ago, so there weren’t as many television opportunities for comedians, and certainly the language wasn’t what it is today.
You have been in Comedy for twenty-eight years. What keeps it interesting for you?
I’m very blessed, so I don’t really work that much, therefore it still feels fresh when I’m performing. When I’m doing television or film, I have to adhere to what someone else wrote and to the way they want it interpreted for the most part. When doing standup, I’m the writer, director, and editor, so it’s all on me—that’s how I like it!
What would you say to someone wanting to get into the craft of Stand-Up?
Write down everything you think is funny, make sure it’s your own idea. Now, run down and get on an open mic stage. Comedy is one of the few real art forms that if you want to try it, you can just walk up on to a stage and give it a shot. The other thing I will tell folks thinking about doing comedy as a professional is that I can give them a long list of successful comedians who took their lives. It’s a lonely world as a comedian—all the traveling and nights alone after the applauses fade. Some people just can’t handle it.
You have done so many cool things in your career from movies to television appearances. What is your most special accomplishment so far?
As far as stand up, doing Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. It was awesome. Being on a move set in Mexico for three months was a blast—shooting guns and blowing up stuff. My biggest thrill was hitting golf balls with Bob Hope in his backyard.
Do you think on Judgment Day when you meet God face to face you’ll be able to make him laugh?
God gave me this gift of seeing things differently and making them funny. I hope after I get up off my knees in awe, and relief that I’m in heaven, that he’ll still give me the ability to think of something funny to say. And then I pray and hope my Almighty Father laughs really hard!
Who are you favorite comedians, and influences?
I grew up listening to Bob Newhart and Bill Cosby albums. For the kids reading this article, an album is one of those big round black things we used to play on a phonograph! I was influenced by their styles as storytellers because that’s what I do. More recently I like Eddie Izzard, Seinfeld, Garry Shandling, and Chris Rock. Yes, he’s dirty, but he makes me laugh. All of those guys except for Izzard are long time pals and great guys.