From the episodes that gave us Ham Girl to Mr. Miyagi, these are the best Community episodes featuring Ken Jeong's Ben Chang.
Ken Jeong is known for playing unstable characters in comedy, and he easily gave his best acting during his six-season run on Community. Going from the cruel Spanish teacher to an outcasted student, villain, a dimwitted “Changnesia” sufferer, to a full-fledged member of the study group, Ben Chang was always the wild card of the series. To celebrate his work on the show, we’ve narrowed down the eight best episodes commemorating Chang at his Changiest.
8. The First Chang Dynasty- Season 3 Episode 21
The penultimate episode of the third season of Community found Ben Chang at the height of his villainy. After taking over Greendale in a Stalin-like manner, Chang uses his teenage forces to bring the college into a totalitarian state.
It surely isn’t Chang’s best episode, but it is the most Chang-centric of them all. Plus, we can’t forget Chang’s keytar solos.
7. Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality – Season 5 Episode 7
In the seventh episode of Community Season 5, the group attends a benefit show at Forefront Theater. Chang finds himself in a separate room where he lands on stage performing for an audience.
After his surprise performance, Chang leaves the room, and a janitor tells him there is no audience in that portion of the theater, and hasn’t been since the 1997 fire that claimed the lives of 24 people. Spooked, Chang goes back into the room to confront the ghosts, eventually running out of the theatre screaming.
The next day, a disheveled Chang attempts to tell the group about his paranormal occurrence at the theater. After the rest of the gang tells him they never saw him that night, Chang has an epiphany and questions his own existence. The scene cuts to a photo of those who died in the fire and centers on the image of Chang amongst the audience.
6. Modern Warfare- Season 1 Episode 23
Not only is the first Community paintball episode one of the most beloved of the entire series, but it also gave us one of our first looks at Chang as an unstable, ready-to-detonate (literally) character. The Dean recruits Senor Chang to take out as many of the remaining paintball contestants as possible, and Ben doesn’t take this order lightly.
Going balls to the wall, Chang enters the study room, donning sunglasses and a tan suit, and begins maniacally shooting his AR-style paintball gun all around the room similar to Al Pacino in Scarface. Chang, Jeff, and Britta have an epic shootout, which ends with Chang detonating paintball bombs hidden inside his jacket.
5. Advanced Documentary Filmmaking – Season 4 Episode 6
Community’s fourth season saw Ben Chang return as Kevin. Disappearing at the end of the third season after his hostile takeover of the school, Chang returned, calling himself Kevin, with no recollection of his past life and claiming to suffer from Changnesia. Unlike Ben, Kevin is best described as a naive, lost puppy dog, and “Advanced Documentary Filmaking” showcased Ken Jeong’s ability to turn the sociopathic Chang into a dumb-hearted but just as hilarious character.
The episode is viewed like a documentary, with Abed behind the camera as the school hopes to earn itself a grant to study Changesia. Some highlights show the study group attempting to re-educate Kevin, with one of the funniest scenes, particularly showing Annie teaching Kevin how to work a microscope and talking to him like you would a baby.
4. Analysis of Cork-Based Networking – Season 5 Episode 6
This episode showcases the softer side of Ben Chang while still keeping his stupidity in the mix. Chang is officially accepted into the Committee to Save Greendale and joins the study group tasked to arrange a school dance.
Chang suggests the theme be “bear down for mid-terms,” to which everyone rightfully scoffs. However, Chang delivers a sorrowful, tear-filled speech about how the group never takes him seriously, convincing everyone to agree to his theme.
His speech is powerful on so many levels. It showcases Ken Jeong’s acting range and came about after Jeong reached out to Community’s creator Dan Harmon asking that his character be showcased as more “grounded.” In an interview, Jeong admitted that the tears in that scene were real.
3. Intro to Reycled Cinema – Season 6 Episode 8
Plenty of episodes in the latter seasons displayed a softer side of Ben Chang, but “Intro to Recycled Cinema” saw a return to the witless Chang we grew to love. Chang leaves Greendale behind after breaking out in Hollywood, going viral for his “Ham Girl!” commercial.
After Abed tells the study group he has unused footage of Chang, the school decides to bank on his newfound fame and create a movie from the sparse scenes to sell to Hollywood and make some quick cash.
The end of the episode shows a burned-out Chang auditioning for a role in Steven Spielberg’s next film. But after making fun of the director, he loses out on the opportunity and returns to Greendale.
2. Queer Studies and Advanced Waxing – Season 6 Episode 4
“Queer Studies & Advanced Waxing” is another excellent example of Community giving Ken Jeong a platform to demonstrate his acting chops. Chang tries out for the part of Daniel LaRusso for a local stage adaptation of The Karate Kid. After he’s torn apart by the director, he ends up playing Mr. Miyagi.
We get to see Chang play out a powerful scene from the original film, which he pulls off perfectly. The episode flawlessly demonstrated Ben Chang’s character development and cemented Ken Jeong’s status as a serious actor (we’d pay to see him in the next The Karate Kid film).
1. Competitive Ecology- Season 3 Episode 3
“Competitive Ecology” gave us Ben Chang at his absolute best. The episode centered around Chang as the school’s security guard, as he goes on a hilarious detective mission spoofing neo-noir movies. After discovering a matchbook in the school restroom, he’s convinced it’s part of a vast conspiracy.
Making the wildest connections, Chang erects a clue board connecting matchbooks, Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, and a fishing derby to absolutely nothing, ultimately burning down a portion of the school. Sorry Chang, but “Arizona” spelled backward is definitely not “Arizona.”