ABC's 'Dr. Ken' Stars Talk Diversity, Which Jokes Are Off-Limits

The cast of the new ABC sitcom discussed the latest project from comedian Ken Jeong at the PaleyFest Fall TV Preview.
Danny Feld/ABC
ABC's 'Dr. Ken'

The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills hosted the stars and creator of the new ABC comedy Dr. Ken on Saturday afternoon as part of their 2015 Paleyfest Fall TV Preview.

The sitcom, based on the life of Community star and real-life medical doctor Ken Jeong, marks the second ABC comedy to center on an Asian-American family, hot on the heels of last season's breakout hit Fresh Off the Boat.  

"If it wasn't for Fresh Off the Boat, we wouldn't be here," Jeong told a packed theater of fans and reporters during a panel following the screening of his show's pilot episode. 

ABC has shown it has no fear of diversity when it comes to their primetime lineup. In addition to Fresh, Black-ish and Scandal have been enormous hits for the network. Dr. Ken hopes to share on that success, but its stars are quick to note that its comedy has a universal appeal.

"I promise there won't be a goddamn dog joke in the f—ing show," Jeong quipped. 

"Even though it's starring an Asian family — and yes, there are some cultural things — it's still just a family show," veteran TV star Tisha Campbell-Martin, who plays Jeong's receptionist on the show, told The Hollywood Reporter. "People can relate."

Campbell-Martin isn't the only familiar face in Dr. Ken's cast, as The Kids in the Hall's Dave Foley, who plays the HMO manager at Jeong's clinic, and longtime TV star Suzy Nakamura (The Goldbergs, Go On) — who plays Jeong's wife — also star. 

For Jeong — no stranger himself to making the most of a supporting role, as evidenced by The Hangover and the last six seasons of Community — it's the first crack at leading man status. 

"It's more than just more lines," Jeong said on the carpet. "It was a lot easier just saying a few lines that were often the funniest in the episode."

For Foley, who led the critically acclaimed series NewsRadio 20 years ago, letting Jeong do the heavy lifting was quite all right. "This is like semi-retirement," he laughed. 

The cast fielded questions from fans during the panel, speaking candidly about ABC's push for diversity in its programming and touching briefly on the importance of Margaret Cho's 1990's series, All-American Girl, in breaking new ground for Asian-Americans on television. Cho will guest star as Jeong's sister in the first season of Dr. Ken

Dr. Ken premieres Friday, Oct. 2 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.

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