The season one finale of “Dr. Ken: Ken Tries Stand-Up” was a brilliant wrap-up to the show’s first time up and a prime example of why the series works so well. “Dr. Ken” is based loosely on star Ken Jeong (his career at any rater) and this last episode merges the fictional Ken brilliantly with the performers real “backstory.”
Sidenote: It is no secret that I adore this show and also a huge fan of Ken and his entire cast. Chatting to the star of Dr. Ken back in March was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the actor, his roots in Stand-Up and his generous nature with fans and his co-workers on the show. A true star in every sense of the word.
In this episode guest starJeffrey Ross plays Dr. Ken’s old pal from Duke, Doug; a stand-up comic who drops by for a physical. Doug drops off comp tickets to his stint at the Laugh Factory.
Ken and Allison go, as does Pat, and as a result, Ken decides he would like to try his hand at stand-up.
Ken: “Back at Duke, I was the funny one.”
Suzy Nakamura as Alison with her “Switch seats with me” was hysterically funny. Done twice, it was her delivery that sold it each time and made this viewer crack up.
Krista Marie Yu as Molly doing the “If I’m going to help you get my name right.”
Kate Simses as Julie at the Laugh Factory: “No!”
Dave Foley as Pat, “You’re going to die up there” and “See Ken. It’s not so hard.”
Tisha Campbell-Martin as Damona with her reaction to the soy sauce on Clark’s pastry. The delivery of her line was just too funny.
Jonathan Slavin as Clark “I thought the balloons would break my fall.”
Albert Tsai as Dave – nurses and “Ice cream truck.”
Ken’s stand up specifically the back up camera gag:
“You ever run over your kids and think I need a home movie of that… Oh God no…”
Dana Lee as Ken’s dad reacting to the (spot on Johnny Carson impression) and the “ja ji” joke.
The writing and the ensemble acting made this episode nigh-on perfect. Focussing on Dr. Ken’s fears, his comedy gaffes and then following his wife’s advice, albeit inadvertently at first, Ken succeeds and is a hit.
At the end of the show there is a huge wink to the fourth wall as Dr. Ken and his family recount the real Ken’s career: Leaving medicine to perform (Allison), making movies (Dave) and getting his own TV show (Molly.)
The subplot of D.K. Park motivating Dave to exercise for an “inappropriate” violent video game is sort of a parallel to Ken’s short journey to the stage at the Laugh Factory.
Let me explain:
Dave’s pursuit of the video game starts with his doing something he is uncomfortable with and is not in his skill set. After struggling to do two pushups, Dave stops and fails. But, D.K. then does a “double or nothing” deal. If Dave can beat him at the 100 yard dash, he will get two video games. Cue the sound of the ice cream truck and Dave proving in a second that he will be winning this double or nothing bet.
The Dave and D.K. tale is Ken’s story in miniature. Ken also starts doing something that he is uncomfortable with i.e. making jokes outside his skill set. After struggling he then stops and switches to being himself. Ken Park then wins as we know Dave will in the upcoming contest.
Herein lies the magic of “Dr. Ken” in this show the comedy also has a point. Usually one that harks back to real issues or feelings. For example: “Ken at the Concert” deals with the fear of losing your kids as they grow older. “Dicky Wexler’s Last Show” is about losing a favorite patient, or to pare it down even further, the death of a friend.
A season of great laughs, an ensemble cast to die for and characters that all mesh perfectly to reach a common comedic goal has come to a close with “Ken Tries Stand-Up. It is a devout wish that Dr. Ken comes back, although with that finale it may well be that if we do see another season it will be a vastly different Ken on offer.
To the entire cast, writers and crew of Dr. Ken; a heartfelt, “Thank you.” You made Friday nights funny and, on occasion, poignant. We are going to miss you all and may the Network Gods bring you back.