When I heard that classic "that guy" Ken Jeong was getting his own show on ABC, I was kind of confused. Didn't we all agree as a nation to move on from Ken Jeong? Much like the movie he "stood out" in, The Hangover, it was cool at first, but the more you thought about it, and the more they kept trying to come back (The Hangover 3, WHY!?), the more you started to question why you liked it in the first place. This just felt like a universal truth. And yet here we are, with a show called Dr. Ken starting tomorrow night. Not that a network sitcom in 2015 is a ringing endorsement of one's aptitude for humor, but ABC clearly feels like millions of people are going to spend their Fridays Dr. Ken and chilling.
So what gives? Was I wrong when I quickly tossed together an opinion on Kenny? Is Dr. Ken actually more promising than I thought? And most importantly: IS. KEN. JEONG. FUNNY? I enlisted overall good judge of quality and person who has seen Dr. Ken, Kristen Yoonsoo Kim, to talk me through the question that haunts my dreams. Let's work this bitch out.
AG: Hey Kristen. So to begin, why is Ken Jeong funny?
KYK: Before we get into *WHY* is Ken Jeong funny, I think we need to address: Is Ken Jeong funny? So, IS KEN JEONG FUNNY? Why does this feel like a deep existential question?
A quick Google search yielded no help:
Yahoo! Answers was a little more helpful:
A white girl replied with, "no, i find him annoying(Nothing against his race)." Does Ken Jeong make you laugh (despite his race)? Awaiting your reply.
AG: Um, I mean, I think he has before? I liked when he played that dick doctor in Knocked Up, but he doesn't really do that kind of funny anymore, right?
KYK: Really? Isn't that the only kind of funny he does? He's a good character actor (in small doses). I thought that was his shtick though—in The Hangover, also The Duff (which I know you didn't see but he plays, like, a kooky principal).
Actually, his new show Dr. Ken just kind of feels like an extension of his character in Knocked Up, only a lot nicer. But also maybe not as funny? How's he in Community?
AG: You know what? I've actually been rewatching the second season of Community, and he's a lot funnier in it than I remember him being. He's had lines that have made me actually laugh out lou—sorry, I mean lolz. But his continued presence on that show was, from what I remember, one of the main reasons why it went off the deep end. Maybe that's Dan Harmon's fault.
But if you asked me to make a snap judgment on Ken Jeong, I'd say he was funny when he wasn't "Ken Jeong." When he was just being a human being in Judd Apatow movies, he had some dry humor that I could get with. But then he became a commodity somehow, and he dialed up some BIG, LOUD HUMOR—like in The Hangover, or the third season of Community, or this clip from Zookeeper I just watched for the first time. Big funny isn't funny at all, IMO.
Let me ask you this, would a funny person be in Miller Lite commercials?
Whoa, so you think Ken Jeong can't carry a lead role, because he becomes comedic overkill? I think I agree with you. I feel like he's best in surprise cameos—like I didn't love The Hangover but he was fine in it. But regarding your original question, "Why is Ken Jeong funny?" I think it's because he's a middle-aged Asian man, and for me that's like, "Oh that guy could be my dad," except he's like, in movies. Middle-aged Asian dudes are also rare in American comedy, so there's that too. He's one of the few people who can whip out an Asian accent without it being *problematic.* I also like when he does his reaction faces. Or pulls out some unexpected sass. Also, he just has a naturally hilarious voice.
I think he's moderately funny in Dr. Ken but I can see that getting old real fast. (Plus, multi-cam sitcoms already feel outdated.)
AG: Should Ken Jeong be mad that Randall Park is Ken Jeong-ing right now?
KYK: Ooh. Hmm. But Randall Park is like... watchable as a TV lead. There's been what, 16 episodes of Fresh Off the Boat so far? I feel like by episode three of Dr. Ken it'll be like OKAY WE GET IT. At the same time, I'm rooting for Ken Jeong as a leading man. No one wants to be a sidekick forever.
AG: So have we settled anything? Is Ken Jeong funny?
KYK: Yes, but in the right project. I don't think TV is the right move for him (especially as a lead) because it's hard to watch him do the same role for so long. Your verdict?
AG: It feels like a no to me, especially because this conversation just muddled the question for me even more. If the most we can say about dude is that he's "moderately funny," then he's probably not funny. Thanks for helping, Kristen.