DID YOU READ

Ken Jeong talks stunts, breaking tropes and the evolution of Mr. Chow in “The Hangover 3”

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Mr. Chow is back and badder than ever in the third and allegedly final installment of “The Hangover” trilogy — which forgoes the formula of the first two (retracing the Wolf Pack’s steps after a forgotten night to retrieve a lost friend) and puts Phil, Stu, and Alan in the middle of a heist. First order of business is to steal their one-time nemesis/sometime friend, Mr. Chow, “the driving force of the third movie,” which meant Ken Jeong had to do some dizzying action sequences this time around.

“I’m definitely becoming an actor who will show that he will commit to the fullest,” Jeong told IFC. “When actors talk about taking themselves out of their comfort zones to do a part, that was me, because I was doing that with regularity.”

Jeong’s biggest risk in the first “Hangover” was popping out of the truck nude — his idea, by the way. (Director Todd Phillips made him sign a nudity waiver in case he changed his mind). But for “The Hangover III,” he had to do a 30-foot freefall for one scene during a prison break, and then for another scene, he had to simulate parasailing over Las Vegas, which required him to be suspended 40 feet in the air. Both scenes meant he had to conquer a “massive” fear of heights. “It’s not like I could be sitting in a Lazy-Boy recliner yelling ‘I love cocaine’ in front of a green screen,” he laughed. “I had to sell it. And I’m the kind of guy who would cry on roller coasters and Ferris wheels.”

Jeong started working with stunt coordinator Jack Gill six weeks before the shoot, heading over to the Warner Bros. lot every Friday after shooting “Community,” to attempt a systematic desensitization of being in a harness at a great height. “We would do five feet, then ten feet, then fifteen feet, then twenty feet,” Jeong recalled. “And then once I was used to being up there, then I would learn to move, and then to move at an accelerated rate. I had to learn to be a daredevil.”

For the prison break, Jeong — who was safety-harnessed — was able to dive repeatedly from a tank “with water falling behind my back” so that Chow could be swept out of a tunnel and fall 30 feet. Gill told him, “Only three people in the biz have attempted what you’ve done: Tom Cruise, Jason Statham, and Queen Latifah.” (“So I’m among royalty!” Jeong laughed). And for Chow’s escape from his Caeser’s Palace penthouse, Jeong did the close-up shots for the Las Vegas parachute jump, but a team of stuntmen helped him do the rest. “I can’t express enough gratitude and respect for what they do,” he said, noting that four jumpers (who actually launched themselves from helicopters) stood in for him during different points of the 1,000 foot run. “Still, I conquered my fear of heights, so that’s a personal triumph for me,” Jeong said.

Stunts aside, Jeong was also happy to develop Chow into a more fleshed-out character, and reveal his vulnerable side. “When you see Chow doing karaoke, he really is a little lonely,” Jeong said. “I could sing that song better, because I sing better, but Todd told me to sing it like Chow.”

But even if “The Hangover” series comes to an end, Jeong holds out hope that he would get to continue to explore Chow in a spinoff (potentially involving Paul Giamatti from the second film). “We could learn his origins, how he became an international criminal. I would love to know that,” Jeong said, explaining that Chow exists as a meta joke about stereotypes.

“In the first movie, when I’m releasing Black Doug, I say, ‘Cachik!’ which means ‘Chicken die!’ in Vietnamese. And I say, ‘Camong!’ which means ‘Thank you’ in Vietnamese,” he said. “Those were ad libs of mine, to make my wife laugh because she’s Vietnamese. But I also wanted to puncture the Asian stereotype of the obligatory Asian lines, so I did these non-sequiturs to make fun of the standard lines. Who better to say that than the guy making fun of the Asian archetype? Playing Chow is puncturing all these tropes on a subversive level, and he’s easily my favorite character that I’ve ever played.”

Compared to his villain/sometimes friend/always an outsider character Chang on “Community,” Jeong said that Chow would eat Chang alive. “Chow is strong,” he noted. “Chow would never live in an air vent. Chow would find the money to buy the school.” He was worried that “Community” was about to be canceled, and had concession tweets ready to go, so he’s “ecstatic” that the show was renewed for another season. “Six seasons and a movie!” he laughed.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.