Ken Jeong JFL42, Toronto ON, September 28
Published Sep 29, 2018If you're the kind of person who loves to go celebrity watching at TIFF, Ken Jeong's show is for you. His anecdotes frequently dropped names like Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Barack Obama, plus he even brought out Gillian Jacobs on stage. Starting with Knocked Up and going all the way to Crazy Rich Asians, Jeong's show was a detailed behind-the-scenes view into the biggest moments of his career.
Having said that, the comedic content of this show was forgettable. Jeong's jokes about his wife having the last name Ho and having a small dick were low-hanging fruit, while opener Kevin Shea's insistence on declaring that Jeong was unattractive was more mean than amusing. However, Shea's bit about how Asians will end up ruling America after all the white, black and Hispanic people kill each other was very funny, plus Jeong got decent laughs with his explanation of why he doesn't want to be a doctor anymore, his description of himself as a "minority millionaire" and his bit about how no one knows who the hell he is in Korea.
The strongest moments of Ken Jeong's show were the ones where he allowed himself to be vulnerable. Jeong's memories of acting in The Hangover while his wife was doing chemo were very touching, as were his account of how Dan Harmon got him to cry on Community and his explanation of why representation was a deeply personal value for him while making Dr. Ken and Crazy Rich Asians.
Nonetheless, this show felt a little bit too Hollywood. Both Kevin Shea's and Ken Jeong's sets ended with them promoting themselves: Shea plugged his podcast, whereas Jeong decided to film a tour promotion video, then go on Instagram Live. No one can deny that Jeong is an incredible comedic actor, but his standup chops are out of shape after a decade away from the mic, and his fame definitely served as a cheap tool to try to smooth over the flaws of his underdeveloped hour.