Bobby Lee

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Bobby Lee
Birth nameRobert Lee Jr.
Born (1971-09-17) September 17, 1971 (age 50)
San Diego, California, U.S.
Medium
EducationPoway High School
Alma materPalomar College
Years active1994–present
GenresObservational comedy, black comedy, blue comedy
Subject(s)Human behavior, human sexuality, American politics, gender differences

Robert Lee Jr. (born September 17, 1971) is an American stand-up comedian, actor and podcaster. From 2001 to 2009, Lee was a cast member on MADtv, and he co-starred in the ABC single-camera sitcom series Splitting Up Together alongside Jenna Fischer and Oliver Hudson between 2018 and 2019. Lee has also appeared in the films Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004), Pineapple Express (2008), and The Dictator (2012). He recently had a guest appearance as the cynical, burned-out Dr. Kang on FX on Hulu's TV comedy series Reservation Dogs.

Lee co-hosts the podcast TigerBelly with his girlfriend, Khalyla Kuhn; he is also co-host of the podcast Bad Friends with Andrew Santino.

Early life and education[edit]

Lee was born on September 17, 1971 in San Diego County, California to Korean American parents Jeanie and Robert Lee.[1][2] He and his younger brother Steve grew up in Poway, California.[3] His parents owned clothing stores in both Escondido and Encinitas, California.[2][4]

Lee attended Painted Rock Elementary School, Twin Peaks Middle School, and Poway High School.[2] In high school, he was part of a breakdancing team.[5] At 18, Lee moved out of his parents' home and took jobs in restaurants and coffee shops in the San Diego area[6] while attending Palomar College. He later dropped out.[2]

Career[edit]

Lee worked various jobs at cafes and restaurants before pursuing a career in comedy. In 1994, the coffee shop where he was working abruptly closed.[6][7] "I just went next door to get a job," he said, "which was The Comedy Store in San Diego" (also known as the La Jolla Comedy Store).[6] After a few months of working odd jobs at the club, he decided to try stand-up during one of their amateur nights.[6] Within a year of doing regular comedy sets, he received offers to open for both Pauly Shore and Carlos Mencia.[2][6] Lee went on to work regularly at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, a comedy club owned by Pauly Shore's mother Mitzi.[2]

Lee has said that his parents had hoped he would continue on with the family business and were less than supportive of his comedic pursuits at first.[2][6][4] During a podcast interview conducted by fellow actor and comedian Joe Rogan on February 1, 2011, Lee stated that during the first few years he did stand-up his parents barely spoke to him, however after his appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno his father called him and asked how much he had to pay to be on the show and then apologized for not supporting his comedy career.[8]

Lee has included his family in some of his work; his younger brother has appeared in several non-speaking roles on MADtv, and his entire family has appeared in a sketch on the show. Lee also pitched a sitcom to Comedy Central in 2007 about a Korean family which was to star his own family.[4]

Lee hosted the 9th MusiCares MAP Fund Benefit Concert in 2013.[9]

In 2020, Lee began co-hosting the Bad Friends podcast with Andrew Santino.[10]

MADtv[edit]

In 2001, Lee joined the cast of MADtv,[4] making him the show's first and only Asian cast member. He has publicly expressed that he dreaded playing the characters Bae Sung and Connie Chung, describing them as "Average Asian" skits.[6] Lee remained with the cast until the series' cancellation in 2009[6] and returned briefly when MADtv was revived in 2016 on The CW.[citation needed] Some of Lee's recurring characters included:

Character name Description
Kim Jong-il Host of the imaginary Kim Jong-il Show
Connie Chung Journalist
Bae Sung The hapless interpreter
Tank Asian-American "Street Tuner" character in the style of the film The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Xing Lao "Johnny" Gan Host of Many Shows! With Johnny Gan and Pongo
"The Blind Kung-fu Master" Title character
Dr. Poon Ji-Sum Character on the Korean soap opera parody Taedo-Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive
Hideki "The Average Asian" Asian man whose friends think he adheres to the stereotypes associated with East Asian people
John McCain United States Senator from Arizona
Stewie Griffin Infant super-villain in a live-action re-creation of a scene from the Family Guy episode "Fast Times at Buddy Cianci High"
Yamanashi Student in gym class of Coach Hines (Keegan-Michael Key), who always gets yelled at and harassed by Coach Hines (whether or not he deserved it).

TigerBelly podcast[edit]

TigerBelly
Presentation
Hosted byBobby Lee
Khalyla Kuhn
GenreTalk
FormatAudio & Video
LanguageEnglish
Length60–90 minutes
Production
ProductionBobby Lee
Khalyla Kuhn
Gilbert Galon
George Kimmel
Bryce Hallock
No. of episodes310 (as of August 19, 2021)
Publication
Original releaseSeptember 1, 2015 – present
WebsiteTheTigerBelly.com

TigerBelly is a video podcast hosted by Bobby Lee and his girlfriend, Khalyla Kuhn, that they started in 2015, with appearances by technical engineer Gilbert Galon and producer George Kimmel. Kuhn became interested in doing podcasts of her own after she was a guest on the DVDASA podcast.[11] The show's intro song "Shadow Gook" was written and produced by Lee and performed by Lee and Kuhn.[12] The hosts discuss events from their lives and news topics from popular culture, often revolving around Asian American issues related to the entertainment industry, adolescence, sexuality, ethnicity, racism, and politics.[citation needed]

Lee and Erik Griffin initially pitched a podcast to All Things Comedy, and they were immediately signed but they could never make the time to meet.[13] Around this time Lee and Kuhn were visiting her family in the Philippines, when Kuhn came down with serious heart trouble.[14] She spent weeks in hospitals and couldn't return to her nursing job.[14] She needed something to do to keep busy and so started her own podcast. Lee came on her show and the chemistry was so good that Lee decided to instead focus on podcasts with Kuhn.[14]

As TigerBelly grew, Lee and Kuhn needed an engineer to watch over the computer and consult on technical issues, so they asked Gilbert to handle the technical side of the podcast; Lee had met Gilbert at a viewing of a Manny Pacquiao fight.[15] Lee met future TigerBelly producer, George Kimmel, when he was working on The Station comedy channel for Maker Studios,[16] where Kimmel was working as a producer.[17]

During an episode in 2016, Margaret Cho recalled an email exchange between her and actress Tilda Swinton over the controversial Ancient One casting in Doctor Strange (2016).[18]

Since 2018 Lee has made several appearances as recurring character Jin Jeong in the new Magnum P.I. tv series.

Personal life[edit]

Lee began taking methamphetamine and marijuana around age 12, and heroin by age 15 and went through three drug-rehabilitation attempts before becoming sober when he was 17.[3][19][20] Lee relapsed on Vicodin and ended 12 years of sobriety after receiving negative feedback from a producer.[21][3] He got sober after MADtv producer Lauren Dombrowski fought for him after he was fired from the show a second time, a story which Lee discusses in his appearance on the pilot episode of Comedy Central's TV series This Is Not Happening.[22] On TigerBelly Episode 224, Lee admitted to guest Theo Von that he had relapsed after his father's death in August 2019 from Parkinson's disease.[23] He subsequently went to rehab and became sober again.[24] Lee has stated that he is a recovering alcoholic.[14]

Lee's younger brother, Steve Lee, is a musician[25] and also a comedian, he hosts The Steebee Weebee podcast. Steve has also made guest appearances alongside Bobby on MADtv, especially in sketches featuring Kim Jong Il and Tank.

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1999 The Underground Comedy Movie Chinese Man
2001 Unreal TV Quang Duck, The Loud Ninja, Lazy Principal TV Movie
2003 Pauly Shore Is Dead Delivery Boy
American Misfits Korean General Video
2004 Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle Kenneth Park
2005 Accidentally on Purpose Bobby Short
2006 Undoing Kenny
Thugaboo: Sneaker Madness Mr. Lee Young / William Hung (voice) TV Movie
2007 Kickin' It Old Skool Aki
2008 Killer Pad Winnie
Pineapple Express Bobby
Larry of Arabia Bobby Short
2009 Soldiers of Capernaum Video
2010 Fudgy Wudgy Fudge Face Kangaroo Hands
Hard Breakers Travis
2011 Paul Valet
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas Kenneth Park
2012 The Dictator Mr. Lao
Emerald Acres Sammy No TV Movie
2013 Final Recipe Park
Wedding Palace Kevin
Jesus is My Co-Pilot Himself Short
2014 Meet Me at the Reck Himself Video
Bro, What Happened? Brah Man
Out of Love Stanley Short
2015 The Comments Hugh Short
2016 Laid in America Goose
Keeping Up with the Joneses Ricky Lu
2018 Curious Georgina Bobby Short
Public Disturbance Chuck
2019 Extracurricular Activities Mr. Mulnick
2020 The Wrong Missy Check-In Desk Employee
Guest House Benny
High & Tight Bobby Cho TV Movie
2021 Wish Dragon Tall Goon (voice)
How It Ends Derek
Hero Mode VP Goodson
2022 Borderlands Larry

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2001-09 Mad TV Various Featured Cast: Season 7, Main Cast: Season 8-14
2005 Curb Your Enthusiasm Sung Episode: "The Korean Bookie"
2005-06 Mind of Mencia Asian CSI Agent / Gay Pirate Episode: "Episode #1.6" & "Stereotype Olympics"
2007 American Dad! Danny Episode: "Bush Comes to Dinner"
Sales Guys Earl Wayne Thurman Episode: "Pilot"
2009 State of Romance Andrew Episode: "Pilot"
Family Guy Sharply Dressed Asian Man (voice) Episode: "Business Guy"
The League Chu Episode: "The Usual Bet"
2010 Ktown Cowboys Himself Episode #1.9
Cubed Bob Yamamoto 3 Episodes
2011 Big Time Rush T.J. Episode: "Big Time Reality"
Family Guy Chinese Man (voice) Episode: "Amish Guy"
2012 Samurai! Daycare Park Recurring Cast
RVC: The Lone Shopping Network Hiri Episode: "Father of My Squids"
2012–13 Animal Practice Dr. Yamamoto Main Cast
2013 JustKiddingFilms Himself Episode: "Don't Bang My Wife" & "Sharing Is Caring"
Arrested Development Mrs. Oh Episode: "Queen B."
Tubbin' with Tash Tiger Belly Episode: "Chelsea Handler" & "Chelsea Peretti & Reggie Watts"
Sean Saves the World Mr. Kim Episode: "Sean Comes Clean"
2013–15 The Awesomes Tim / Sumo Main Cast
2014 TripTank Mongolian / Mongolian Leader / Li Ching (voice) Episode: "The Green" & "Candy Van Finger Bang"
The League Lee Wei Lee Episode: "Epi Sexy"
2015 The Comedians Fortune Teller's nephew Episode: "Billy's Birthday"
NCIS: Los Angeles Rio Syamsundin Episode: "Blame It on Rio"
2015–19 Nature Cat MC Ferret Recurring Cast
2016 Mad TV Various Guest: Season 15
Another Period Sea Captain Episode: "Lillian's Wedding" & "The Duel"
Son of Zorn Jakton Episode: "The War of the Workplace"
2016–18 Love Truman Recurring Cast
2017 Comrade Detective New York Degenerate (voice) Episode: "Two Films for One Ticket"
What Would Diplo Do? Brian Main Cast
Real Rob Kim Lin Episode: "Best Play Date Ever"
2018 Alone Together Stan Episode: "Pop-Up"
NCIS: Los Angeles Jeff Carol Episode: "Goodbye, Vietnam"
2018–19 Splitting Up Together Arthur Main Cast
2019– Magnum P.I. Jin Recurring Cast: Season 2-
2020 Dream Corp LLC Tricky Ricky Recurring Cast: Season 3
2021 Nailed It! Himself Episode: "Travel Dos and Donuts"
Reservation Dogs Dr. Kang Episode: "NDN Clinic"
Inside Job Dr. Andre Main Cast
Immoral Compass Dylan Episode: "Part 2: Secrets"
And Just Like That... Jackie Nee Episode: "Hello It's Me"

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Artist Role Notes
2009 "We Made You" Eminem Sulu [8][26]
2010 "2 Different Tears" Wonder Girls [27]
2010 "Hangover" Taio Cruz Captain
2017 "Dure Dure" Jencarlos [28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "MILESTONES: September 17 birthdays for Patrick Mahomes, John Franco, Bobby Lee". Brooklyn Eagle. September 17, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Grant, Lee (September 17, 2004). "'Mad' man". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on March 1, 2016. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Archer, Greg (September 18, 2013). "Bobby Lee On Comedy, Survival And Being 'A Big, Sweaty Ball Of Flesh'". HuffPost. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Yang, Jeff (April 10, 2007). "ASIAN POP / Mad Man". SFGate. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  5. ^ Woo, Michelle (April 2, 2007). "Kickin' It With Bobby Lee". Character Media. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Nguyen, Joe (May 5, 2009). "Face2Face with Bobby Lee". www.asiaxpress.com. Archived from the original on March 1, 2018. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  7. ^ "Bobby Lee at Levity Live". Visit Oxnard. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  8. ^ a b Rogan, Lee & Redban 2013
  9. ^ The Grammys (December 2, 2014). "Set List Bonus: Ninth Annual MusiCares MAP Fund Benefit At Club Nokia". GRAMMY.com. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  10. ^ Laddin, Stephen (March 3, 2020). "Andrew Santino Is A People Person". High Times.
  11. ^ Lee 2017, p. 10:45
  12. ^ Lee, Bobby; Kuhn, Khalyla; Galon, Gilbert (November 26, 2015). "The Korean Kite 한국 연". Tigerbelly (Podcast). Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  13. ^ Lee & Griffin 2016, p. 1:17:00
  14. ^ a b c d Baldwin, Greg; Kalloniatis, Ant (November 19, 2017). "Bobby Lee is a Provoked Panda". Second Chances Podcast (Podcast). Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  15. ^ Lee 2017, p. 12:00
  16. ^ Baldwin, Drew (January 30, 2012). "Maker Studios Reboots The Station With Bobby Lee". Tubefilter. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  17. ^ Lee 2017, p. 2:03
  18. ^ Demby, Gene (December 21, 2016). "When Swinton And Cho Talk Race, The Point's Lost In Translation". NPR. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  19. ^ Schonberger, Chris (October 27, 2016). "Watch Bobby Lee Take on the Hot Ones Challenge". First We Feast. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  20. ^ Kozlowski, Carl (May 26, 2016). "Why Bobby Lee Is Done with 'MADtv'". Hollywood in Toto. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  21. ^ Lee, Diaz & Syatt 2014, p. 9:30
  22. ^ Variety Staff (October 28, 2008). "'Madtv's' Lauren Dombrowski dies". Variety. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  23. ^ "Comedian Bobby Lee's father has passed away". August 19, 2019.
  24. ^ Lee, Bobby (December 12, 2019). "Theo Von & The Guillotine | TigerBelly 224". YouTube. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  25. ^ "David Choe x Money Mark x Steve Lee starts a band". Upper Playground. August 19, 2014. Archived from the original on October 18, 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  26. ^ Eminem 2009
  27. ^ Adriane (May 24, 2010). "The Wonder Girls: New Music Video, Exclusive Pics, Videos Here at MTV Iggy!"MTV K. Archived from the original on June 04 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  28. ^ "Jencarlos Releases New Single "Dure Dure" with Don Omar". www.peermusic.com. July 28, 2017. Retrieved April 9, 2021.

29.Magnum P.I https://www.cbs.com/shows/magnum-pi/

External links[edit]