Perhaps your first, um, exposure to the work of Ken Jeong came in The Hangover, when he, as the flamboyant gangster Mr. Chow, pounced out of a car’s trunk wearing nothing but socks. A select audience knows Jeong as Spanish instructor Señor Chang on Community. Still others may know Jeong as the doctor who gave them an annual physical exam. WHAT?
Yes, Jeong is also a real-life physician (he keeps his medical license current during his screen career), and he’s the leading man in ABC’s sitcom Dr. Ken (premiering Friday, Oct. 2, at 8:30pm ET/PT), loosely based on his professional and family life. Jeong plays Dr. Kendrick Park, a skilled doctor with a tough bedside manner. (He asks a patient who refuses a colonoscopy, “Who are you going to trust — a doctor, or a guy with an inflamed ass and an Internet connection?”) He’s also a loving husband and father with a strange way of showing it, even using a smartphone app to spy on his teenage daughter.
We made an appointment with Jeong to get the prognosis on Dr. Ken and more:
Are people surprised to learn that the guy who played Mr. Chow is a real-life doctor?
Ken Jeong: I was on a plane where a person had vertigo and was really dizzy, and they were worried that this might be a stroke. And the stewardess was like, “Is there a doctor on the plane?” And I told the stewardess, I said, “I used to be a doctor.” And she went, “Ha ha! Sit down, Chow!” It happens all the time.
You have an improv background, so what’s it like working with costar Dave Foley on Dr. Ken?
I’m a huge Kids in the Hall fan, and really just grew up on his comedy. Me and one of my best friends and also co-EP partner, Mike O’Connell, we were in an improv group 20 years ago, and we would watch and steal and hack off Kids in the Hall. And now here we are working with him. I do nothing but ask him questions about Kids in the Hall all the time. We’ve worked together on some other things. We actually did a Hot in Cleveland live episode. That was the first time I worked with him on television and we became good friends out of that.
Do a lot of patients try to diagnose themselves on the Internet?
I’d have patients come in with abdominal pain, and I’m like, “Based on your physical exam and tests, you have reflux.” And they’re like, “Nooo, I have the rarest form of hepatitis. I looked it up online. If you’re going to doubt WebMD, then I don’t know why I’m going to you.”
Will you someday be using the Daughter Finder app?
I told the writers, “Yeah, I know this is a joke, but I’m really going to use this on my daughters. I know this is a bit and it’s used for television, but I think it’s really good and I think it’s really strong.” That was based on real life, of how overprotective I am in real life of my kids and my family, and trying to heighten that for the pilot.
Will there be any full-frontal nudity in Dr. Ken?
I can only dream, right? You guys keep reading, “Oh, TV has changed! TV has changed!” I’m like, “Great! Full frontal, yo!” And they’re like, “Hasn’t changed that much, Ken!” And I say, “OK. Copy that.” But no, I really don’t want nudity of any kind on this show.
Are you still never leaving Community?
I will never leave Community, man. Those guys are my family. I would love to work with them on this show in any capacity.
Photo: © 2015 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Credit: Michael Desmond