Dr. Ken: How Ken Jeong's Past Life as a Real Doctor Inspired His New Role

Gregory E. Miller
DR. KEN - Dr. Ken Park has a pretty sweet life. A smart and beautiful wife who still wants to have sex with him every now and then, two decent kids and a job in which he gets to help people on a daily basis. If he could only relax, get out of his own way and stop second-guessing everyone and everything around him, Dr. Ken would be just fine. But that's not likely to happen anytime soon!  (ABC/Danny Feld)
KEN JEONG, DAVE FOLEY

Fall TV PreviewKen Jeong didn’t have to look far to find inspiration for his new sitcom, Dr. Ken. The ensemble comedy, which splits time between family and work, is loosely based on The Hangover and Community star’s prefame life, in which he worked as a physician—a job he took seriously.

“I wasn’t that jokey doctor like Patch Adams,” says Jeong, who still has an active license but doesn’t practice. “I wasn’t walking around in a clown outfit going, ‘Hey, you got herpes, but I got your nose!’”

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The same can’t be said for Ken Park, the character Jeong plays with a bedside manner that leaves a lot to be desired. His diagnosis for a man with ankle swelling and shortness of breath? “You’re fat.” But executive producer Mike Sikowitz says fans of Jeong’s previous over-the-top work will be surprised by how grounded the new series is. “He’s playing this really sweet—of course, overbearing and somewhat crazy, but sweet—dad and husband,” Sikowitz explains. “This is a way you’ve never seen him before.”

And it’s a way that is very similar to off-screen Ken. “I’m a bit more socially well-adjusted, I think, in real life,” Jeong laughs. “That’s what everyone says. ‘Oh wow, I’m really surprised at how mild-mannered you are. You’re not yelling profanities at me, and you’re not naked.’”

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Dr. Ken, premieres Friday, Oct. 2, 8:30/7:30c, ABC