By Sarayu Pai
On Friday, April 12, actor and comedian Ken Jeong paid a visit to campus in an event organized by the Stanford Speakers Bureau. Dinkelspiel Auditorium was filled to the brim with bustling audience members. The event started (fashionably) late, and Jeong walked out to prolonged clapping and cheering. Jeong proceeded to deliver a stand-up comedy session that segued into a Q&A on brown sofa chairs in the middle of the stage.
Jeong has received accolades for his past acting credits, which include a myriad of roles in various TV shows and films. A notable fact about Jeong is that he did not originally train to be an actor. Hailing from Greensboro, North Carolina, Jeong attended Duke University and graduated from the UNC School of Medicine with a degree in medicine. Later, he went on to act in the comedy series “Community” as a troubled teacher who frequently carries out and makes preposterous actions and decisions. Jeong is also known for his roles in “The Hangover” franchise, playing the role of a hoodlum that has a “frenemy” relationship with the protagonists.
Apart from these movies, Jeong also wrote his own TV show, called “Dr. Ken,” which he believes to be the most authentic and free of stereotypes out of everything he has been in, since he drew on his real experience to write it. Most recently, Jeong can be seen in the blockbuster hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” which he dubbed “Yellow Panther” and stated to be the “apex” of Asian representation. Upon walking onto the stage, Jeong said that he could see his twin daughters in us, and he went on to talk about his own experience, spitting the famous line, “Asians don’t raisin,” which suggests that Asian people do not visibly age. Jeong is not afraid to use humor that walks the line of being provocative, and he made numerous raunchy jokes throughout his talk.
He took a moment to express his gratitude for Judd Apatow, who gave Jeong his big break in the cinema world. While “The Hangover” series gave him his fame, “Community” helped him become a better actor, since he gained skills such as training himself to cry on cue.
At the end of his talk and before the couch Q&A session, Jeong fielded some questions from the audience, which ranged from topics such as his Rice Purity Test score, to medical school advice and even dramatic weight loss. Some of the most insightful advice he gave was from his father: “Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.” Although we might experience many hardships in our lives, we should take the time to appreciate the treasures and privileges we do have. Jeong gave another piece of advice geared towards university students: “College isn’t about becoming smart, but about becoming enlightened.” The advice can be interpreted in any which way, which signifies that enlightenment can come in many forms, be it academic, philosophical, social or in terms of general life skills.
Contact Sarayu Pai at smpai918 ‘at’ stanford.edu.