Comedian Jo Koy talks about the role of the church in his life and his new film “Easter Sunday”
“Easter Sunday” has a PG-13 rating, released on August 5.
Joe Valencia’s mother and aunt fight, but the drama reaches a new level when the two women show up to church wearing the same long brown dress – and at Easter, to top it all off.
Comedian Jo Koy’s directorial debut “Easter Sunday” follows Joe (Koy), who returns home for Easter to his loving, but somewhat erratic family. Over the course of the film, they bicker, eat, drink, laugh, and unravel the drama of the house.
The film takes viewers through the Filipino experience. Expect to salivate watching family dinner scenes with sumptuous spreads. Meanwhile, the church and family homes, which serve as the film’s backdrop, encompass a sense of community. Since the film is loosely based on Koy’s life, his family and Easter became an important part of the storyline.
“It was the biggest holiday we all shared as a family. It was bigger than Christmas, it was bigger than Thanksgiving,” Koy told Deseret News in an interview.
All the parents came, and there was church, food, entertainment, fights and everything else, Koy said.
“There was no obligation to buy presents for everyone. It’s just Easter, you just bring a jar of food,” he joked. “‘Oh, by the way, let’s go to church because they got free donuts today. There are other Filipinos who will be there too. So let’s go see them.’
“That was the whole point of starting ‘Easter Sunday’. It’s the best way to talk about family and culture. ‘identify,’” Koy added.
The church means a lot to Jo Koy’s family
But that’s not the only reason this story is important to the comedian. Her mother, an immigrant woman in America, struggled to find a sense of belonging.
This search was much more difficult at that time, when there was neither Facebook nor Instagram. Her mother had to go out and find her people. She went to church every Sunday and eventually started approaching people who looked like her, hoping they were also Filipino.
Church gave Koy’s mother “a chance for my mother to be seen,” he said. “When you go to church, no matter your ethnicity, we all believe in Jesus. So today, we all get along.
Church attendance provided many get-togethers and potlucks, where Koy was able to meet other Filipinos and make friends. This is the role faith played in his family and community.
Jo Koy hopes you identify with ‘Easter Sunday’
After talking about his stage culture for so long in his stand-up comedy routines, Koy is happy to finally see the story come to life on the big screen.
“Instead of always having the same response to my routine, which is ‘Oh, that’s too specific. Not everyone will understand,’ he said, ‘to now be able to broadcast and show the world that you will get it and feel good about it.
He hopes viewers will see their own family in the film’s characters, “opening the door to a lot more other ethnicities that aren’t really being heard.”