Ken Jeong doesn’t just play a doctor on TV – he used to be one in real life. Before he hit it big in acting, Margaret Cho remembers back when was just a humble medical student with an undeniable talent for comedy.
Cho, who guest stars on Dr. Ken this week as the sister of Jeong’s character, was touring when she first saw Jeong do stand-up.
“It was 20-something years ago. He was in school and he was doing comedy, so he invited me to his school and he he killed,” Cho, 46, tells PEOPLE. “He was phenomenal. Then he went to med school and stuff. And I was like, ‘Why are you going to be a doctor? Just be a comedian!’ It all worked out. That was his journey.”
Jeong, 46, earned his medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and went on to to work as a general practictioner for years, getting his big acting break in 2007’s Knocked Up, which he filmed during a vacation from work.
On Dr. Ken, Cho plays a self-described black sheep of the family who went on to earn success as a TV doctor akin to Dr. Oz.
“I m kind of like a big shot and I m showing off of a bit,” she says.
For Cho, getting to guest star on a primetime sitcom starring an Asian-American lead is particularly rewarding. She was a trailblazer with the 1994 ABC series All-American Girl, which was the first primetime sitcom to feature an Asian-American cast. It took twenty years after its cancellation for another Asian-American starring sitcom to hit the airwaves, with Fresh Off the Boat debuting earlier this year on ABC.
“I am so proud of them. This show, as is Fresh Off the Boat, is my dream realized. An Asian-American family television show that is really funny on ABC – and now I have two. So I’m really proud,” Cho says.
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Dr. Ken airs Fridays (8:30 p.m. ET) on ABC.