That’s nothing compared to the pressure from Joe’s mother, Susan (Lydia Gaston), in the Bay Area, who insists that he visit her for Easter with the family. Joe also realizes that he hasn’t been paying enough attention to his teenage son, Junior (Brandon Wardell), so the two drove up to Daly City together.
Joe’s cousin Eugene (Eugene Cordero from “The Good Place”) has taken the $20,000 Joe gave him to buy a taco truck and instead bought something called a Hype Bus. The loan shark that provided the cash for inventory (Asif Ali as Dev Divine) insists on being repaid immediately. Susan and her sister, Joe’s Tita Theresa (Tia Carrere) don’t talk to each other, but talk nonstop to everyone else about their feud. And Nick keeps calling about the job and finally tells Joe he has to fly back to LA right away for a meeting with the showrunners. Comic mayhem ensues.
I love Jo Koy’s stand-up and highly recommend his story about his mother’s reaction when he loses his keys. Like all good stand-ups, he is brilliant at creating vivid characters on stage with his exaggerated posture, facial expressions and voice. The character he plays here has a more limited range, and mostly looks frustrated or resentful. At Easter services, after a silly meeting with the priest who wants help with his show business career, Joe ends up in front of the congregation and can’t help but go into an Easter stand-up routine.
The plot contrivances about Eugene’s predicament with the loan shark, a valuable stolen item, and the updates from Nick (who always ends a call by saying he’s losing cell signal) become boring because they don’t play into Koy’s strengths as a performer or the setting’s potential for the “the more specific a story is, the more universal it is” category. Eugene says, “Family is crazy complicated,” and that’s about as insightful as it gets until the hug fest ends. Anyone who is second or third generation will identify with tradition vs. dynamics of assimilation and the passionate loyalty to members of society who have become famous. And anyone who has a family will identify with the generational conflicts over what constitutes success and the importance of security.