Ken Jeong - Combining Laughter with Medicine on "Dr. Ken"

April 13, 2016 - Ken Jeong 04/13/2016 Views: 904

Ken Jeong talks about using his experiences as an actual medical doctor on his show "Dr. Ken" and weighs in on representing Asian Americans on television. (6:20)

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Please welcome Ken Jeong!

(cheers and applause)

How are you?

Thank you. Thank you.

Oh, Dr. Ken.

Yes, sir, thank youfor having me. It's an honor.

Oh, thank you for being here.This is amaz...

You are... you are the guy.You are the comedy guy.

Does anyone take you seriouslyany more in life?

Uh, you know, no, now.

I mean, I'm glad I don'tpractice medicine anymore

because I-I thinkthey would imagine, like...

You know, they don't want,like, a doctor jumping naked

-out of an exam room orsomething like that. -(laughter)

-Yeah. -Yeah, I wouldn't...I honestly would not trust...

-'Cause you... A lot of peopledon't know this. -Yeah.

-You are... You really studied.You were a doctor. -Yeah.

-Real doctor. -Yeah, I was...I was internal...

I was a general practitionerat an HMO

in L.A. for, like, seven years.

Had a whole practice of, uh...a whole panel of patients.

And, uh... and my show, Dr. Ken, is loosely based

on my life as a physician.

So, it's almost like,kind of like what happened

in pre Hangover days,kind of was like, you know.

You know what always fascinatedme about your story is,

I always wonderif your old patients

-who maybe just saw you, like,once or twice... -Yeah.

...came, like, to see youas a doctor,

and then, one day,they're watching The Hangover,

-and they're like, "Waita minute." -Yeah. -(laughter)

Is that...?Like, it feels like a scam.

No, that's happened.No, I-I...

I've had patients cometo tapings of the show,

and I didn't know it,and they were just watching.

You know, I don't know ifthey're asking for advice, or...

But I don't know.But I think they were...

But they were just, like...

It was really surreal.

It's great to connectwith my old patients.

I still keep in contactwith some of them.

-And, yeah...-Do they still ask you

for, like... like, adviceon piles and stuff?

-Valium and Vicodin? Yes.Yes, they, uh... -Yeah?

-(laughter)-No, they, uh...

"Yo, man, I'm so happy you did The Hangover, man.

-You got some pain pills?" Um...-(laughter)


Okay. Yes, I do, Phyllis.


Um... (laughing)

Were you a very bad doctor?


I was shamed out of, like...

I was taking my clothes offtoo much,

workshopping Mr. Chow linesfor the future.

No, it was... you know,I always wanted to be an actor,

-even in college, so I had...-Yeah.

I had... I had donesome theater at Duke,

where I went to undergrad,and I also wanted to...

I did some standup comedywhile I was in med school,

so I always had thiskind of performing itch to do.

I just didn't knowif I could do it for a living.

So actually, during...even during the time

I was practicing as a doctor,I would do some standup comedy

on the side, which iswhat you saw-- the standup clip

-Yeah. -of my characterperforming at a comedy club,

is what I did.

It was... I was... I didn't...

Standup comedy was,like, my hobby,

or comedy was my hobby,and that was...

it was just a way for meto kind of scratch that itch.

But I... I was practicingmedicine full-fledge.

My wife's a doctor and allmy good friends are doctors,

-so it was so weird.-If you were in, like,

a situation now, do you stillremember all your medicine?

-Are you...?-Well, yeah. I mean,

I am a bit gomed-out,what they call...

a bit behind, I think,in most up-to-date treatments.

And it's so funny,on the show,

we do try to true up a lotof the medical dialogue.

So I will call my wife a lotfrom the writers' room.

Or I'll also, I have--one of my best friends

is a physician, is a medicalconsultant on the show--

so we'll try to... just...we don't have to true up

that much dialogue,but we try to kind of

make things, you know,vaguely accurate.

You're also one of the, uh,the few, I would say,

famous Asian actors on TV.

Do you ever feel pressurein a world where people go,

"There's not enough diversity"and stuff?

Are you going,"I'm carrying the mantle here"?

No, not at all. I mean,for me, I was a guy that...

you know, I do... I'm very proudto be Korean-American,

and it is cool that our showhelps to normalize,

like, Asian-American,uh, families

in contemporary society.

But I wanted to do itfrom a standpoint of, like...

my wife is Vietnameseand I'm Korean, and we do...

you know, I just tryto duplicate dialogue

how we talk at home,and it's usually Americanized.

Some of it is not--we've done some episodes

that definitely toucheson culture.

-Yeah. -We hada Thanksgiving episode where--

my wife is Japanese in the showand I'm Korean--

we talked about culture clashesand Thanksgiving

and stuff like that, so...

But we really do try to do it...I-I never try to write the show

as it would be writtenby a white man.

So I always want to... you know,I didn't want to be the guy

-who, "Hey, honey. How was work?-"Well, it's really tough being

a Korean-American physicianin the San Fernando Valley."

-(laughter, applause)-I think that's great dialogue.

-Yeah. -I thinkthat is amazing dialogue.

"Where's my gong?"You know, I don't...

-You know, so, yeah.-(laughter)

I don't think youshould throw those jokes away.

That's a pretty good joke, yeah.

-That's actuallya pretty good joke. -Yeah. Yeah.

I don't knowif you want to waste that.

So you're writingon the show as well.

You're executive producing,you're writing on the show.

-Many different hats. -Yeah,many, many different hats.

-Isn't that stressful, though?-Yeah, it's not unlike

what you and allthe correspondents do.

It's very hard.It's the first time

I've ever done anythingmore behind the scenes,

where usually I'm the spoiledactor that would just read lines

and get paid a lot of moneyto do it.

But now you haveto really create content.

There's nothing more fulfillingthan having a hand

-in what you're saying on screenand what you're doing. -Yeah.

And yeah,this definitely has been

the most creativelyfulfilling year of my career,

because I'vejust learned so much

in terms of, you know,being a producer,

and I'm getting better at that,

so I'm just a studentof the game, kind of.

When you were still a standup,what was the worst joke

you ever told but you love?Every standup has one joke

-that they never let go.-Oh, I... oh, well, ha!

I actually talk the series fina...

in the season finaleof next week,

where my character does standup,I use one joke,

a horrible, horrible hackyAsian joke I first wrote

that actually-- actually,my first time I did it,

it went on Comedy Central.

And it was a horribleAsian veterinarian joke.

-What was the joke?-The horrible joke is:

You never seeany Asian veterinarians,

because they eatall their patients.

And you say thatit was horrible, it was bad,

-That's not cool.-and... it's not cool.

-It's not cool.-It got me on Comedy Central,

and I threw that away,and I would say,

we have to do...I said we must deconstruct

and, like, vilify this joke.

And so my character's trying todo standup for the first time,

and he was like, you know,"You never see an Asian vet.

(strong accent):"Oh, I'm so sorry,

your doggy not make it."I do the thing,

and the nurse is like,"That's horribly racist,"

and everyone was like,"That's not funny,"

and then... and then Dave Foley,who plays my boss,

"Laugh Factory?You should call it

"Setting Your People BackFactory."

And then he goes,"See, Ken? It wasn't so hard."

So he just kind of walks away.Basically, it's kind of...

the anxietiesa minority comedian does,

-you go for the easy Asian joke,-Yes, exactly.

and then whenI'm bombing on stage,

I start to goto that joke again,

because I kind of lovethat joke secretly.

"You never see any Asian vets,"and the chief res is like, "No!"

-(laughter)-Like that. It's just great.

-Okay, okay, I won't do it.-I can't wait to see it.

Dr. Ken airs Friday nightsat 8:30 p.m. on ABC.

You better watch it.Ken Jeong, everybody.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)