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Everything's so bad, Ken Jeong (almost) can't bring himself to dance on The Late Show

Ken Jeong, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Hey, the country’s on fire, so that’s fun. After spending his monologue doing the tougher than usual nightly duty of wringing laughs out of the truly hateful, racist, and all-around depressing-to-humans-with-souls news emanating from the Trump administration, Stephen Colbert looked like he could use a little pick-me-up. Unfortunately, guest and human “look at me” machine Ken Jeong came out seemingly enervated by the same grind of Supreme Court retirements, Republican hypocrisy over same, and children in fucking cages. Slouching onstage to the sounds of bandleader Jon Batiste’s jaunty theme music, the unprecedentedly bummed out actor, comic, and former actual doctor told the taken aback Colbert that he was trying to “rebrand” himself, perhaps as someone not willing to do literally anything to make people laugh.

Colbert, trying to nudge Jeong into action with a clip of the hyperkinetic dance moves with which he kicked off his last Late Show appearance, eventually resigned himself to his guest’s glum, no-nonsense demeanor. But then, sure, Jeong gave Colbert and the people what they wanted, affecting a series of diagnosable-looking jerky tics as Batiste and band Stay Human’s designated “Dance, Kenny, dance!” music kicked back in. Then, outdoing the signature Ken Jeong moves from last time, the former physician hammed it up as only he can. Sure, it was no Pop-And-Lock-A-Thon, but, again, Jeong (currently prepping his first Netflix standup special on Broadway, of all places) can always be counted on to give viewers everything they asked for. Maybe even a little more.


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About the author

Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.