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Fame and celebrity

No joke: doctor-turned-comedian Ken Jeong jumps offstage to save woman having seizure at stand-up show

Jeong, star of ‘The Hangover’, still has a medical licence

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2018, 9:16am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2018, 9:16am

Stand-up comics, famously, do not like hecklers.

They ruin shows. They divert from meticulously calibrated jokes. The response to them is often so brutal and hilarious that heckler takedowns is itself a comedy subgenre.

Ken Jeong thought he was being heckled in Phoenix on Saturday when a woman in the third row during his set at the Stand Up Live Comedy Club unmoored the comedian with a disturbance.

The lights came on, and it became clear the woman was having an apparent seizure, an audience member later said.

Then, The Hangover and Community actor reverted to his dormant profession: doctor.

“He couldn’t see what was going on with the lights. He thought he was being heckled. He was playing with them from the stage for a second,” audience member Heather Holmberg told USA Today. “It was a moment where time stands still. Someone was having a crisis. There was a hush over the room.”

Jeong, an internal medicine practitioner turned Hollywood funnyman, cleared the area and attended to the woman alongside a medic who happened to be in attendance, Holmberg said in a Sunday tweet.

The woman regained consciousness and returned to her feet, and Jeong stayed with her until an ambulance arrived, TMZ reported.

Jeong then returned to the stage after the incident to a round of applause, the entertainment site said.

His representative, Michelle Margolis, declined to make additional comments beyond saying the TMZ story was “accurate.”

At least one audience member thought he killed it. “Great night! He is gracious and grateful … AND flipping funny!” Holmberg said in her tweet.

Jeong received his medical degree in 1995 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, though he soon began moonlighting as a comic. A break in a comedy contest led him to Los Angeles, where he performed sets after long days in a clinic.

By then, Jeong transitioned to acting full time and stole scenes in The Hangover series as the flamboyant gangster Leslie Chow. He also starred in the NBC sitcom Community. He leveraged his medical experience in a short performance in the film Knocked Up and in his own sitcom Dr. Ken, which was cancelled after two seasons last year.

Jeong does not practice medicine anymore but is still licensed in California, though his certification expires in July, according to state records.

After Saturday’s incident, it may be time for Jeong to resurrect an old but favourite joke.

“What do you call the guy who graduates last in your class at med school? Doctor,” he joked in 2011.