Ken Jeong Live in JFL42 @ the Sony Centre (Fri, Sep. 28, 2018)

by Alon Weiss

Toronto’s Comedy Festival, Just For Laughs annual event (JFL42) had the distinct privilege of presenting the rambunctious comedy of the central figure of The Hangover… no, no I don’t mean the bearded man-child… I’m talking about everybody’s favourite slick talking, fast operating, narcotics snorting, ‘Leslie Chow’. That’s right, Ken Jeong was in the house, filling the seats of the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on Friday, September 28th.

Good friend and fellow comedian, Kevin Shea opened for the headliner act, getting the crowd warmed up in his greeting about how much he loved Toronto for being “very Asian” to his delight. And from there bringing his sultry expose on Asian culture; the foods we’ve never heard of, and perhaps better we know less about, and how Hollywood deceives us, as he describes, “Asians in real life aren’t what you see in Crazy Rich Asians, we’re just not that hot.” Kevin wasn’t shy to laugh at his own lack of height and… what’s that? Ah right, the headline for this was about Ken Joeng. So…. that’s what you really want to read about? Sure, moving along then.

When Ken took the stage, he was welcomed with vigorous applause, as everybody was eager to see ‘Chow’. And not just in The Hangover (all three movies), Ken is also highly recognized in films as Knocked Up, The Goods, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Pineapple Express, Ride Along 2, and the wildly successful Crazy Rich Asians. He’s also starred in TV including Community, Glee, his own self produced (albiet short lived) series Dr. Ken, and will be seen in the upcoming reboot of the new Magnum P.I.

Many remember his role as a doctor with poor bedside manner in Knocked Up. But how many realize that Jeong was a real doctor in another life? True story though, Jeong was a practicing M.D., a fact that when brought up in conversation, nobody takes seriously. Not that I can blame them, even I find this hard to believe given his provocative and lewd personality. For that matter if my life was on the line and he was the only one who could save me, I’d take a eulogy delivered by Mr. Chow any day!

It was also Knocked Up which became a major turning point in Ken’s life, as his performance lead to many more offers from director Judd Apatow. So he actually left his medical career behind and hasn’t looked back since. A radical decision the crowd could really laugh about from his sharing of his Korean family’s disappointment and displeasure in such a risky and foolish venture, the “disgrace and dishonour” they all had to face. Until success had them all changing their tune sure enough. And it’s this success that makes Ken endlessly grateful to Judd Apatow, it seems there’s no limit to the lengths he’d go to, to repay the director… any implication you might read into that probably being true.

He’s also grateful to his Vietnamese wife for her long time support, sharing her maiden name as Ho in going into their relationship history. Even given Ken’s reputation for vulgar humour where nothing is sacred to him, who’s never shy to mock his own anatomy no matter how crude, or boasting about his wealth… it’s not like he’d exploit her name or her struggle with breast cancer just to get a few more laughs out of his audience.

And if you believe that, I am SO going to remember you in my campaign when I run for for President of the United States. Should also be noted he had some witty anecdotes from his encounters with former Presidents, Bill Clinton and Barak Obama.

But really, he does love her and expressed great admiration for her courage in dealing with life’s hardships. And to show his appreciation for Toronto, to end the show Ken got out his phone and captured a live stream of the audience for his social media. I had a great time seeing the infamous Ken Jeong live and hope he’ll be back for next years JFL.

We would like to thank Charlene Coy of C2C Communications for the invitation to this event.