Thread: [MADtv] Bobby Lee
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Old 12/02/2005, 7:58 PM
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Default Dad’s Like Kim Jong Il on ‘MADtv’

BY LING LIU, Dec 02, 2005

Bobby Lee says his mom voted for George Bush in the 2004 presidential election because she thought Bush’s hard-line attitude toward North Korea could stop Kim Jong Il from kidnapping her son.

“If he kidnapped me, I probably wouldn’t be able to escape,” jokes Lee, who may be best known for his impersonation of the North Korean dictator on Fox’s MADtv. “If I met him, I wouldn’t say anything — I wouldn’t want him to kill me!”

Lee says he didn’t need to do any research on Kim. His inspiration came far closer to home: his dad. “It’s basically the same guy,” he explains. The rest he learned from popular culture. “I found out [Kim] loves The Matrix. I like his fade — his MC Hammer hair.”

But Lee feels that the West misunderstands Kim Jong Il because of a lack of information. “I think he was born into a situation where he has to commit to an ideology. If you or I were born into that situation, we would probably do the same thing.”

Lee was born in 1972 and grew up in San Diego, Calif. His immigrant South Korean parents owned several clothing stores.

“When my dad got here, he worked three jobs,” Lee recounts. “I mean, I’ve been fired from every job I’ve had! Americans are just different — they’re lazy.”

That culture clash was particularly sharp for Lee, who did not excel academically. “Every once in a while, you hear about that Korean kid who goes bad — I was that kid,” he recalls.

He never completed his degree and became addicted to crystal methamphetamine. Eventually he got into a rehabilitation center.

He started waiting tables in San Diego and hung out at the Comedy Store. On open mic nights, he started telling jokes about his family. In 1995, he was spotted by comedian Pauly Shore, and ended up opening for Shore’s Las Vegas show.

That started Lee’s path to success that’s been unusually smooth. He performed on NBC’s Late Friday and Comedy Central’s Premium Blend. When he appeared on The Tonight Show, his parents started to pay attention. “They were like, ‘What the f*ck?!’” Lee jokes.

In 2000, after making it through seven rounds of callbacks and beating out hundreds of other comedians, Lee became part of the MADtv cast.

Now in his fifth season, Lee is introducing two new characters. One is an especially effective feng shui director. “Like if I move a lamp, people get pregnant,” he says. The other is an Asian boy who’s been adopted by “country western people.” His Midwest parents “just tell him he has Down Syndrome,” Lee says.

But Lee’s talent is not limited to MADtv. His first major film debut came in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, playing eager-to-please Kenneth Park. He’s also done an episode on HBO’s celebrated Curb Your Enthusiasm, and has a role in the upcoming drama Undoing, starring Kelly Hu, Russell Wong and Sung Kang.

In a business where thick skin is required for survival, Lee has proven resilience. “I’ve heard things like, ‘He’s a horrible example of Asian Americans, he’s not funny, his Connie Chung act is not funny,’” he says. “I’ve been criticized my whole life. I don’t give a f*ck — it’s just a sketch show.”

... if someone can post the pic of bobby from that article, that'd be great- my right click capabilities are limited here at work.

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