NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Comedian and physician Ken Jeong will be the keynote commencement speaker at the university in New Orleans where he did research for a year after going through his medical residency at a local hospital.
There often are arguments about whether a speaker should be academically accomplished or a celebrity, but Jeong is both, Tulane University President Michael Fitts said in a news release.
Tulane said its ceremony on May 21 will be the first since the COVID-19 pandemic began at which all graduates will participate in person.
Jeong performed in New Orleans comedy clubs in the 1990s while working as a resident in internal medicine at the Ochsner Health system’s original hospital, followed by a research fellowship at Tulane’s School of Medicine. In 1995, he won the city’s Big Easy Laff Off, judged by Improv comedy club founder Budd Friedman and former NBC chief Brandon Tartikoff. Jeong got a chance to perform at the Improv in Los Angeles.
His performances since then have included Mr. Chow in “The Hangover” movie and its sequels; Senor Chang from the TV show “Community,” Wye Mun Goh in the movie “Crazy Rich Asians, and his own Netflix standup special “You Complete Me, Ho.” He wrote, produced and played the lead in the ABC sitcom “Dr. Ken.” He has been a judge for six seasons on “The Masked Singer” and is host and executive producer of “I Can See Your Voice.”
Jeong’s undergraduate degree is from Duke University, which also has given him an honorary degree in humane letters, and his medical degree is from the University of North Carolina.
He worked as a physician for years, moonlighting in comedy clubs and as an actor. He became a full-time actor after the huge success of the 2007 movie “Knocked Up,” in which he played a burned-out doctor.
In 2018, he used his medical training to help an audience member who had a seizure while Jeong was performing at a comedy club in Phoenix. He volunteers with Stand Up To Cancer and speaks out against racism and hate crimes against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.