I am genuinely happy for Ken Jeong.
When I first saw him in “Knocked Up,” I thought he was great, one of many scene-stealers in that movie. When I talked to Judd Apatow about him, he mentioned that Jeong was an actual doctor. At the time, I thought Judd meant that this was Ken’s first time acting, that he was a doctor who they just met and thought was funny and then hired. Jeong was actually working in TV a full decade before that, though, while also having trained and worked as a doctor. He’s a great example of a guy who kept his dream alive while also having this full-time professional life, and to see him find a niche where he’s become a very in-demand comic character actor is just enjoyable. He deserves it.
After all, Ken Jeong will attack a role if you give him a chance. He doesn’t phone it in. Say what you will about him as a performer, but that’s a guy who will make gigantic choices and he’ll throw himself into it, and there’s no ego about things. Whatever’s funny is funny. He doesn’t care if he looks “cool.” He cares about the laugh. He is merciless in his pursuit of it.
When I talked to Jessica Walter the other day, we talked about her roles on “Arrested Development” and “Archer,” which can certainly be seen as “of a piece.” The same is true of the roles that Ken Jeong has played in both “The Hangover Part III” and “Community.” Chang and Chow are different degrees of lunatic, and yet when you talk to Jeong right now, he’s become so focused on what he does and he’s so thoughtful about it that you see it’s not just crazy energy. Talking to him about doing a season five, it’s obvious he’s glad to be doing it again, and I think the whole cast feels that way.
We’ll have more for you on “The Hangover Part III” next week, and I’m sure we’ll be neck-deep in “Community” coverage in the fall.