Ken Jeong surprised with emotional elements in his first stand-up show

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Though he was in the first comedy club where his career was launched, doing his first broadcasted stand-up comedy show, on his first Netflix special, Ken Jeong seemed to be performing for his hundredth time on his TV stint You Complete Me, Ho.

He exuded confidence on the stage, harnessed the abundant laughter filling the hall, and continually crafted hilarious scenes for all. For the hour that he was performing, I would never have guessed that it was his first show. Well-known from movies like The Hangover and Crazy Rich Asians, Jeong’s performance channeled elements from his archetype of being the jokester in these films.

Set in a quaint theater in at The Ice House in Pasadena, California, You Complete Me, Ho chronicled Jeong’s life, starting in the medical sector to the drastic switch to the entertainment field later on in life. The autobiographical theme meshed with his comedic tone with hilarious anecdotes along the way create a unique exhibition.

However, the main focus was Jeong’s relationship with his wife, Tran Ho, from meeting her in that very theater to starting their family, to their difficult battle with Ho’s cancer. An eclectic mix of different themes and topics were brought up, keeping the hour-long show fresh and current at all times.

As a stand-up comedy, I was pleased to see that the show itself was just funny. Whether it was from his planned jokes, improvisations, or audience participation, Jeong’s desire to perform stand-up comedy is a well-deserved one because he obviously holds talent for the art. Both the comedian and performer in him equally balanced out and shone, rendering a truly distinctive production catered to the stories he strived to tell.

Admittedly, at some points, Jeong’s trademark Asian stereotype comedy got tiring, especially incessant jokes surrounding his wife’s last name. However, the audience never tired of these hallmark jokes, so perhaps this was more of a personal annoyance.

Additionally, another of Jeong’s emblems is his explicit language. Especially at the beginning of the performance, his Holden Caulfield-esque diction really came to light, and while it was funny at first, I felt like it lost its effect after the first quarter. However, these two qualms were rather insignificant in the grand scheme of the performance.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of Jeong’s performance was the endearing elements casually slipped in amongst the banter. He crafted a heartfelt story surrounded by an aura of emotion, but it did not detract from the comedic focus of his performance. In specific, he described juggling pieces to keep his family together and take care of his wife during her onerous battle with cancer and chemotherapy, leaving his audience speechless for once.

These touching moments appeared every so often, and they were a welcomed surprise to what I thought would be solely comedy. To top it off, Ho herself was in the audience, and seeing her lovable smile after each of Jeong’s dedications to her was a highlight of the show.

While it was a recorded event, Jeong’s demeanor was relaxed and casual, as if welcoming millions of Netflix viewers into The Ice House with him. Above all, Jeong knows how to engage with his audience, and You Complete Me, Ho highlighted a perfect blend of emotion and comedy. It was clear that he had many stories to tell, so perhaps he will acquiesce to another performance soon.

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