By: Kitty Cheung, Staff Writer
As an Asian-American who proclaims that he “Korean’d” himself into medicine, hearing doctor-turned-comedian-actor-writer-extraordinaire Ken Jeong speak about his decision to pursue comedy and acting full-time. Jeong was nothing short of audacious and inspiring. As part of the Just For Laugh’s Northwest Comedy Festival, fans had the opportunity to see Jeong perform live comedy on Tuesday, February 19 at the Orpheum. Jeong’s comedic persona, likened to a family man who jokes about dicks, was all at once vulgar, heart-warming, and hilarious.
He performed material from his Netflix comedy special, “You Complete Me, Ho,” cracking jokes about his badass wife, losing his brainchild show “Dr. Ken”, as well as additional improv’d bits for the audience. Joking with fans was not out of the question for Jeong as he noticed one waving a huge poster saying “I found you daddy” from the crowd. Bringing the sign up to the stage, Jeong gave the fan a shout-out and even brought him over close to the stage for photos. Opening the floor up to ask medical questions, Jeong was even teased himself when he advised someone to get a cheap blood test, to which many Canadian audience members screamed “It’s free!”
Following the performance, there was a separate, more intimate event titled “In Conversation with Ken Jeong“, held a mere six-minute walk away at the Vancity Theatre. Moderator Zain Meghji sat down with Jeong to ask questions about his comedy, his creative process, his past as a physician, and more. Jeong, known for playing outrageous characters such as Leslie Chow in “The Hangover” trilogy or Señor Chang in television series “Community,” shed his over-the-top persona for a more reserved and professional demeanour during the discussion with Meghji. The latter part of the night involved giving fans the chance to ask questions and share stories.
Jeong mentioned experiencing social anxiety in his set earlier in the night, so I asked Jeong what advice he had for budding comedians and writers who experience anxiety performing. Jeong stressed the importance of repetition and practice. He mentioned that anxiety could be used for good, that it was a natural feeling that could be used to ground oneself and help improve writing and performance.
Known for responding to tweets and social media messages from fans, a particularly heartfelt moment occurred when one fan told Jeong about how he had responded to her tweet over New Year’s, which prompted not one, not two, but three (!) hugs from Jeong as she told her story.
The crowd was even treated to Jeong singing a rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep.” When discussing his involvement in “The Masked Singer,” a celebrity singing competition on which he sits as a judge, Jeong was raucously encouraged by fans to sing after having performed the song on the show’s Korean version. The audience swayed and sang along to Jeong’s gentle crooning, making for a night of laughter and ardent connection.
Jeong’s premier comedy special “You Complete Me, Ho,” a hilarious and heartwarming tribute to his wife, is available on Netflix.