By Ryane Liao
Ken Jeong — Asian-American actor, comedian and even a licensed physician — made an appearance at Dinkelspiel Auditorium last Friday for a stand-up routine and subsequent Q&A. Referencing his notable work in The Hangover film series, Community TV show and most recently, the highly successful film Crazy Rich Asians, Jeong joked sardonically with the audience about his experience in each.
Jeong’s distinct brand of self-deprecating humor textured the stories he used to describe his personal life. Many quips were cracked good-naturedly at the expense of his wife Tran Jeong (née Ho), and his mischievous term of endearment for her: “Dat Ho.” On a more earnest note, the comedian was solemn in his account of Tran’s battle with Stage 3 breast cancer just as he left his career as a general practitioner of medicine.
“She’s my everything,” he proclaimed, gesticulating passionately. “She’s my best friend and f*cking reason for living.”
Jeong looked out into the audience and claimed that all the young faces in the crowd reminded him of his daughters, twins Alexa — “named after the Amazon product” — and Zoe — “after Deschanel if you’re white and Kravitz if you’re black.” He mentioned that at 11 years old they have launched determinedly into a sixth-grade sex education. When one of his daughters asked Jeong what an erection is, he joked, “[It’s] what Daddy gets when he checks his bank account.”
Following his stand-up performance, Jeong opened up questions from the audience of a “medical or pre-medical” nature. Most notable was a query from a student regarding his Rice Purity Score, a metric of sexual and legal deviancy. After brief confusion over this item of popular culture, Jeong replied, “All I know is that I like my women like I like my rice — dirty and steamed.”
The performance took a more sincere turn when Jeong spoke of the importance of a university education and, most of all, following one’s passion.
“College isn’t about a number, it’s not about being smart. It’s about being enlightened and finding brightness — brightness in the dark and where there is none,” he said.
Regarding whether Jeong felt a responsibility to speak on behalf of Asian-Americans, he expressed that artists should not do anything just to please the community, that they should follow passion — not tribalism.
“You make artistic decisions that [are] important to you, and that’s true leadership,” he said adamantly. “And true leadership is not giving a f*ck what the White Man thinks.”