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Fast Facts About Stand-Up Artist JR De Guzman

The US-based comedian is being dubbed as “The Next Jo Koy”

California-based comedian JR De Guzman is finally serenading his Filipino fans with music and fun as he delivers laughter to the table later this evening, June 3, 7 PM, at The Theater at Solaire. Titled “Later That Evening,” his stand-up comedy show is an event presented by Myx Global and co-presented by Solaire.

The “StandUp NBC” winner is on a worldwide tour across the American and Asian territories and is ready to serve a round of jokes and nonstop joy in his first headlining show in his homeland. The fast-rising comedian is raking in a number of following in his niche, too, and has been getting good press in the US.

However, while JR’s hilarious performances are teeming with both Filipino and American family references, race, relationships, and culture, he is challenged to bring only the best of stand-up comedy to his supporters and audience here and abroad.

“I’m usually doing a show as a Filipino-American—as a Fil-Am—for [the] American crowd who might not understand some of the culture, the references, so I spend time explaining it or giving that perspective,” JR told Metro.Style in an exclusive talk.

“Now, it’s different. I’m in the homeland; it’s home court. It’s a different thing where I don’t necessarily need to explain what it’s like being a Filipino,” he continued, saying that the crowd in the Philippines is something that he can really connect with.

“Everyone I meet is just really sweet—is like the kindest people—so as much as there’s that challenge of changing it a little bit, I think I’m just excited to party with everybody,” JR noted. “I want to say, I’m just so excited to be here. Everyone, I’m so excited to be back in the Philippines.”

Named “New Face” in Just for Laughs 2017 and featured in the Netflix special The Comedy Lineup and Comedy Central’s Kevin Hart Presents: Hart of the City, the Filipino-born comedian is building an empire in the stand-up comedy scene, exciting his Filipino and foreign patrons with his humorous pleasantries.

Learn more about the maker of laughs and browse through the gallery below:

See our Q&A session with JR De Guzman:

Since it’s your first show here, what do you expect as a challenge from the Filipino crowd?

JR: If anything, I think a lot of the stories I could share are ‘hey, this is what it’s like going abroad and what they think and how crazy Americans are or foreigners are.’ I think that’ll be the fun part—that was bringing in that perspective to the Philippines.

You have been making it big in the stand-up comedy scene in the US, specifically in California. Can you share with us how you first forayed into stand-up comedy? Since when have you been in this business?

JR: I’ve been doing stand-up for 12 years. I started in a stand-up comedy class. One of my good friends said, ‘Hey JR, you’re pretty funny. There’s this comedy class. Do you want to take it?’ I would get up at these bar shows—open mics at a bar. That’s really how I got my start. It was going through that—the bar circuit. 

It was at my university but it wasn’t super formal because it was really like a few classes and after that, you’re on your own. The best I can really describe it is let’s say you’re at McDonald’s and they train you how to do a few certain things—of how to cook a burger, fries. All that. But then, you have to figure out your whole career after that. ‘How do I get into the next kitchen and the next?’ I started out in college, took this class, and that really gave me the tools to get onstage. And then, after that, you have to write your set, learn how to talk to a crowd and perform, and that’s the part that you kind of do on your own.

I think YouTube has become the new [university]. We don’t need university anymore. We just have YouTube—YouTube University. I learned a lot from YouTube, too.

What is your most memorable stand-up show to date? Do you have a favorite place or city to perform in?

JR: I hope that the next favorite place is going to be this weekend! (For the one-night-only show in Solaire.) I hope it’s going to be the best memory ‘cause it really has been just such a fun week. I did a drop-in—a surprise show—on Tuesday here in town just to practice and warm up and get a feel for the crowd. I was honestly nervous ‘cause this is my first show back in the Philippines [for] a long time, but as I got onstage, I just really connect with the crowd here.

That being said, in the past, I think one of my most memorable shows—my first theater. Comedy clubs are maybe a 150 to 200 people, and then the room that I started out in was maybe like 12 people—the very first open mic that I ever did. And then last summer in June of 2022, I did my first theater in front of maybe a thousand people. My parents were there; my brother was there; my girlfriend was there; and my manager [was there]. A lot of people came and it was just surreal. I did pinch myself, make sure I was awake. It was just a really amazing, amazing show.

What memory from a fan has stuck with you forever?

JR: One of the shows I did in California has this sweet older tita in the front row and she has a sign. I can’t say what all the signs said. Let’s just say that. It gets a little bastos but she wrote some signs and that was one of the most memorable experiences that I had. I can share with you what the signs said later. I’ll text it to you!

Most of your content centers on culture, race, and relationships. With this, are there any topics that you avoid or veer away from?

No. There’s nothing that I consciously avoid. If I’m not an expert on something, I won’t pretend to be. It’s just like any regular conversation. If you ask me about my opinion on politics, I think I would tell you what I know, but then there’s going to be a certain point where it’s like ‘yeah, I don’t really know this part about it.’

I think there’s nothing that can’t be joked about onstage as long as you’re coming from your real perspective and being genuine. I think anything can be funny.

Have you ever experienced heckling or being booed at? When harsh comments or tirades are being tossed out, how do you deal with them or combat them?

It’s mostly my dad and my mom. My mom is always telling me to get a real job, you know? No...I think 90% of the time, the heckler is usually accidental. It’s somebody who’s very excited or they’re drinking too much and they want to be a part of the show, but they don’t realize it’s messing up your rhythm—of the show, a little bit—so for me, I try to do it in a way where it’s like I can address it but still make it fun. But then, when they start to interrupt the show too much and they think ‘oh, wow, I can talk whenever I want,’ that’s when I kind of…I have a nice face—I look really nice—so I kindly will say ‘hey, can you shut the f*** up?’ And then, they’ll usually be so surprised and still happy and usually stop after that. I said ‘f’ ‘cause I didn’t want to curse. 

You are being dubbed as the “Next Jo Koy” by many. With that, how do you manage to find your own footing in this industry?

That’s a great question! Shout out to Jo! What’s up? We got this tattoo together—Jo and I. I got to get the other—the three stars. It’s flattering; it’s an honor. It’s almost like to be compared to someone that’s one of your idols and then now, one of your friends. It’s really nice, you know? If I can have the grit that Jo’s having and be as talented and all that stuff, it’s great. I think as far as finding my own voice, it really is like…maybe there’s that pressure, right, expectation of when they compare the two. You can feel that natural thing to think that people expect a certain type of show. I think Jo is Jo and he’s in his lane and he’s killing it in that lane, and I think the main thing is just continuing to do the jokes that I like. I think at the end of the day, it’s going to be fun to see the rise of Filipino comedians in general and it’s just nice to be a part of that.

What are your plans after your June 3 performance? Are there any tourist destinations in the Philippines that you have always dreamt of going to?

Oh, yeah! Definitely. After the show, we’re going to fly to Palawan. We’re going to go to Palawan and I’d also like to go to Boracay but I’m not sure if we have time for that one.

What is a good Filipino dish or food that you would love to try while you are here in your homeland?

I grew up eating a lot of Filipino food with my family. I love sinigang. I love all the soups—sinigang, bulalo, and tinola. I feel like there’s more that I really like. I mean, everything! I had sisig the other day. I haven’t had adobo yet this week so I need to get some adobo. Honestly, I haven’t had sinigang yet this week and that’s one of my favorites. Sinigang and bulalo are my favorite foods. 

Lead photos by @jimmccambridge via @jrdguz

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