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Bobby Lee: Comedian and Podcaster
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Bobby Lee is an American comedian, actor, and podcaster best known for his work on MADtv from 2001 to 2009 and his popular podcasts TigerBelly and Bad Friends. Born on September 17, 1971, in San Diego, California, Lee has become a prominent figure in the entertainment industry, captivating audiences with his unique comedic style and candid personality.

 

Bobby Lee's Birth, Family, and Education

simple.wikipedia.org
simple.wikipedia.org
Bobby Lee, born Robert Lee Jr. on September 17, 1971, in San Diego, California, to Korean-American parents Jeanie and Robert Lee, grew up in Poway, California, alongside his younger brother, Steve Lee, who is also a comedian and musician. Lee attended Painted Rock Elementary School, Twin Peaks Middle School, and Poway High School, where he was part of a breakdancing team. At 18, Lee moved out of his parents' home and enrolled at Palomar College, though he eventually dropped out. During this period, he worked in various coffee shops and restaurants in the San Diego area. His journey into comedy began when the coffee shop he was working at closed down, prompting him to seek employment next door at The Comedy Store in La Jolla. This pivotal moment marked the start of his career in stand-up comedy, despite initial familial disapproval.
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Starting Stand-Up Comedy

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dead-frog.com
Bobby Lee's entry into comedy was serendipitous, sparked by the closure of the coffee shop where he worked in 1994. Seeking new employment, he found a job at The Comedy Store in San Diego, a venue that would become pivotal in his career. Initially performing odd jobs, Lee soon took to the stage during amateur nights, marking the beginning of his journey in stand-up comedy. His natural talent quickly became evident, and within a year, he received opportunities to open for established comedians like Pauly Shore and Carlos Mencia. This early exposure and experience at The Comedy Store laid the foundation for Lee's successful career in comedy, leading to regular performances at the renowned Comedy Store in Los Angeles, owned by Mitzi Shore, Pauly Shore's mother.
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Joining MADtv Cast

en.wikipedia.org
en.wikipedia.org
Bobby Lee joined the cast of MADtv in 2001, making history as the show's first and only Asian cast member during its original run. He remained a key figure on the show until its cancellation in 2009, contributing to its unique brand of edgy, boundary-pushing comedy. Lee's tenure on MADtv was marked by his portrayal of several memorable characters, including Bae Sung, the hapless interpreter, and Kim Jong-il, the North Korean dictator. Despite the challenges of being the only Asian cast member, Lee's performances were well-received, and he became a fan favorite. In 2016, he briefly returned for the show's revival on The CW, further cementing his legacy within the MADtv franchise.
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Lee's Film and TV Roles

Bobby Lee has built a diverse portfolio of roles in both film and television, showcasing his versatility as an actor and comedian. Below is a summary of some of his notable appearances:
FilmRole
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)Kenneth Park
Pineapple Express (2008)Bobby
The Dictator (2012)Mr. Lao
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011)Kenneth Park
Wish Dragon (2021)Tall Goon (Voice)
Hero Mode (2021)VP Goodson
Guest House (2020)Benny
TV SeriesRole
Splitting Up Together (2018-2019)Arthur
Reservation Dogs (2021)Dr. Kang
Inside Job (2021-2022)Dr. Andre (Voice)
Magnum P.I. (2019-2023)Jin Jeong
The League (2009-2014)Lee Wei Lee
MADtv (2001-2009, 2016)Various Characters
Lee's filmography highlights his ability to transition seamlessly between different genres and formats, from animated features to live-action comedies and dramas.
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Podcasting Ventures: TigerBelly and Bad Friends

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Bobby Lee has found great success in the podcasting world with his two popular shows, TigerBelly and Bad Friends. TigerBelly, which he co-hosts with his partner Khalyla Kuhn, features candid discussions about their lives, pop culture, and the entertainment industry. However, some fans feel that the quality of TigerBelly has declined in recent years, citing a lack of the personal banter and chemistry between Bobby, Khalyla, and the show's producers that made it unique. In contrast, Bad Friends, which Lee co-hosts with fellow comedian Andrew Santino, has been praised by fans as a superior podcast. The show's dynamic and comedic chemistry between Lee and Santino has resonated with listeners, leading some to prefer it over TigerBelly.
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Despite the perceived decline in TigerBelly's quality, both podcasts remain popular and showcase Lee's talent for engaging, humorous conversations.
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Lee's Substance Abuse and Recovery

Bobby Lee Opens up to Theo Von About His Recent Struggle With ...
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Bobby Lee has been candid about his long battle with substance abuse, which began in his early teens. He started using drugs around the age of 12-13, experimenting with meth, psychedelics, and other substances. Lee first achieved sobriety at 17 but relapsed multiple times throughout his life. His struggles resurfaced during his tenure on MADtv, where he relapsed on pills and alcohol. More recently, Lee relapsed in 2019 following his father's death, using marijuana edibles and alcohol. He experienced another relapse in late 2021, which led him to seek rehabilitation once more. Lee's openness about his addiction highlights the ongoing challenges he faces in maintaining sobriety and the impact of his "disease" on his career and personal life.
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Closing Thoughts

latimes.com
latimes.com
Bobby Lee's journey from a struggling comedian to a well-respected figure in the entertainment industry is a testament to his resilience and talent. As an LA-based comedian, Lee has made significant contributions to American stand-up comedy and sketch comedy, particularly through his work on MADtv and his popular podcasts, TigerBelly and Bad Friends. His ability to connect with audiences through humor and candid discussions has solidified his place among fellow actors and comedians. Despite facing personal challenges, including substance abuse and familial disapproval, Lee's career continues to thrive, showcasing his enduring appeal and versatility in the comedy world.
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