Epilepsy Foundation Statement on Ken Jeong’s Netflix Comedy Special

Philip M. Gattone, M.Ed., President and CEO

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

LANDOVER, Md. — Members of our community brought to our attention Ken Jeong’s new comedy special on Netflix where he incorrectly referenced seizure first aid procedures and provided potentially dangerous information to his audience. While we certainly understand that comedy routines by definition should not be taken seriously, it is greatly and even more disturbing given the fact that Jeong is also a medical doctor — and he reminds his audience of this just before his comedic routine. It is worrisome that his audience would assume his description of seizures and seizure first aid is serious and not comedic. In fact, epilepsy is a serious neurological disorder and people with epilepsy may experience hundreds of seizures a day. We are outraged and disappointed that Jeong makes some shockingly bad references to seizures and seizure first aid procedures in his Netflix comedy special.

In Jeong’s show, he talks about how Ice Cube “saved” someone having a seizure by wrapping a belt around the person’s mouth because the person could have swallowed their tongue. He then praised Ice Cube for his quick response. This is absolutely NOT the way to aid someone having a seizure. In fact, this wrong action could, at the very least, cause serious injury to the individual having the seizure and to the person attempting to provide help. And, at the worst, this wrong action could result in the death of the person having the seizure.

Seizure first aid is actually easy and safe if done correctly (www.epilepsy.com/firstaid).

It was not long ago that Jeong, himself, helped someone having a seizure during one of his stand-up comedy routines. We would like to think that he, as a medical doctor, is very aware of the seriousness of seizures and how important it is for everyone to know proper seizure first aid. Unfortunately, Jeong’s Netflix comedy routine does not educate people about seizures or provide accurate information on what to do if someone sees a person having a seizure. It does the opposite and puts 3.4 million people with epilepsy in the U.S. at increased risk of injury and death. Communicating improper information about seizures and seizure first aid only adds to the myths, ignorance, misunderstanding and fear that exist about seizures and can destroy the lives and livelihoods of people with epilepsy.

For decades, and in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Epilepsy Foundation has developed and activated nationwide programs to promote public education about epilepsy, seizure recognition and how to administer seizure first aid.

We are disappointed that Netflix, once again, chose to air such inaccurate information about seizures that directly and negatively impacts our community. Despite our numerous attempts to have a conversation with Netflix’s leadership to ensure seizures are accurately depicted in their production projects, Netflix has not been very responsive. We have reached out to Mr. Jeong’s team with the hopes of working with him to educate his audience about epilepsy and seizures and provide accurate seizure first aid information.

About Seizure First Aid

Seizure first aid is simple — Stay, Safe, Side. Stay with the person having a seizure and start timing the seizure. Make sure they are Safe and move away harmful objects. If they convulse or are not awake, turn them on their Side. Never put anything in their mouth and do not restrain them. If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or the person is injured, call 911. Learn more at www.epilepsy.com/firstaid.

About Epilepsy

According to the World Health Organization, epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide with no age, racial, social class, national or geographic boundaries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.4 million people in the United States are affected by epilepsy. It is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce seizures which are sudden abnormal bursts of electrical energy that disrupt brain functions.

About the Epilepsy Foundation

With a network of nearly 50 partners throughout the United States, the Foundation connects people to treatment, support and resources; leads advocacy efforts; funds innovative research and the training of specialists; and educates the public about epilepsy and seizure first aid. For more than five decades, the Epilepsy Foundation has shone a light on epilepsy to promote awareness and understanding, and to advocate for laws that matter to people with epilepsy, while also funding $65 million for epilepsy research and supporting 3,076 epilepsy investigators and specialists in their early careers. Over the past 17 years, in partnership with the CDC, the Epilepsy Foundation has helped to improve access to care for people with epilepsy, expanded its digital reach and online resources in homes across the country, and trained more than 500,000 school and community personnel in how to recognize seizures and administer seizure first aid. The Foundation has also assisted more than 108,000 people through its 24/7 Helpline in the past five years, and continues to focus on innovation, new therapies, community services, advocacy and education as key priorities. To learn more visit epilepsy.com or call 1.800.332.1000. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Contact Name: 
Jackie Aker
Contact Phone: 
(310) 846-9272
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Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

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