Ken Jeong Teaches 'Soup Boy' a Lesson
Now, Jeong is taking his brand of comic rage to the small screen where he'll be playing the irate Spanish teacher on NBC's new sitcom 'Community.' We chatted briefly with the actor about Senor Chang's demons, his "beef" with costar and 'Talk Soup' vet Joel McHale and how his manhood (displayed for all to see in 'Hangover') has become a source of mockery on set and at home. Check out a clip from the show, and read the full interview inside.
What will 'Community' fans be met with when your character is introduced on Thursday's episode?
I play a Spanish instructor named Senor Chang, who has a bit of a chip on his shoulder because he's one of the only Asians in the United States teaching Spanish. So, he's defensive about that, even if no one ever brings it up.
I'm detecting some pent up anger in Señor Chang ...
There's a bit of rage there. His rage is really just masking his immense insecurity. I think he possibly goes home crying every night. He feels like he's confronting all the demons, which are personified by the students whether they deserve it or not. Instead of instructing them, he feels his Spanish class is nothing but a big judgment circle.
What sets the show apart from other sitcoms?
It's like '28 Days Later' ... these people are randomly at this specific point in their lives and the show is about how they interact with each other. Maybe I'm the zombie in it. Usually on a sitcom, a nucleus is tied to a family or by the workplace, but here you have a nucleus tied by this random college class.
Are you chummy with Joel McHale, the show's star?
Oh, you mean Soup Boy? I just want 'Community' to thrive so I can get some digs in at the Soup Nazi over there.
I feel like I'm becoming his "Asian Ryan Seacrest" because he was on the 'Today' show and they put a photo of the cast up and I was waaay in the background, and he told Matt Lauer that that was my actual size. And I know exactly what he was referring to and I don't like it one bit. So I don't care if I insult Joel McHale for the rest of my career ... It's on!
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What's a typical conversation between you guys?
He'll be mocking me about my anatomy -- put on full view in 'The Hangover' -- and I'll just do my worst impression of him, (Jeong lowers his voice to a mopey, sad-sack accent) "Hey everybody, I'm Joel McHale. Everything comes easy for me! I'm Joel McHale!"
You left nothing to the imagination in 'The Hangover.' That had to be the best full-frontal fight scene since 'Eastern Promises.' What kind of reaction do you get from people now?
It really is surreal. I was at an industry party last night and this tiny child actor comes up to me, points and yells: "You're in Hangover, man!" ... and I was like, "Is he mocking me?" ... You know I think he was fan but he may have just been laughing AT me. I was like, "Am I making this kid feel better about himself?"
What did your family think when they saw it?
My wife said I'm making every guy feel better about themselves after watching me. So I feel like I'm the guy every guy in the world goes "Awwwwww", ya know? Poor guy! Thanks for making me feel good about myself!
You know, pity is a powerful marketing tool.
Yeah, so now people are like "poor little dude, I'm gonna have to tune in to your show out of pity, seeing as that's ALL you've got going for yourself!"
>> Next Up: Read Our Interview With 'Community' Star Joel McHale
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