Bobby Lee, born Robert Lee Jr. on September 17, 1971, in San Diego, California, is an American stand-up comedian, actor, podcast host, and investor. With a career spanning over two decades, he’s garnered fame for his roles in MADtv, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, and his popular podcasts TigerBelly and Bad Friends.
Lee’s entrepreneurial ventures, including early investments in Bitcoin, have also contributed to his estimated net worth of around $16 million. Known for his observational humor and self-deprecating style, Lee continues to entertain audiences and engage in the ever-evolving world of finance.
|Robert Lee Jr.
|September 17, 1971
|San Diego, California, USA
|5′ 6″ (1.68 m)
|Black (often dyed lighter)
|Stand-up comedian, Actor, Podcaster
|1994 – Present
|Khalyla Kuhn (married 2016)
|Jeanie Lee, Robert Lee
|Steve Lee (brother)
|Buddhist (raised Christian)
|Owns a home in Los Angeles, California
What is Bobby Lee’s Net Worth?
Bobby Lee’s net worth is estimated to be around $16 million. Bobby Lee’s childhood wasn’t paved with silver spoons. His parents ran clothing stores, but financial stability was a constant struggle. This experience, however, laid the foundation for his sharp wit and observational humor, as he keenly observed the dynamics of family, culture, and the immigrant experience.
Lee’s comedic aspirations bloomed early. After dropping out of college, he honed his craft in the competitive Los Angeles stand-up scene, facing countless rejections and stage frights. His early years were marked by financial instability, with him sleeping on friends’ couches and hustling odd jobs to make ends meet.
By the mid-90s, Lee’s dedication started paying off. He landed gigs on shows like “Comedy Central Presents” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” showcasing his unique blend of self-deprecating humor and cultural observations. The year 2001 marked a turning point when he joined the cast of the iconic sketch comedy show “MADtv.”
MADtv wasn’t just a comedic platform; it was a financial springboard. His seven-year stint brought him national recognition, stable income, and the opportunity to collaborate with comedic giants like Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. This period saw Lee’s net worth steadily rise, allowing him to finally move beyond financial insecurity.
After leaving “MADtv,” Lee continued to diversify his career, venturing into movies and television. He landed memorable roles in films like “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” “Pineapple Express,” and “The Dictator,” further solidifying his comedic presence in Hollywood.
But beyond the big screen, Lee continued to hone his stand-up, touring extensively and selling out shows internationally. This dedication to live comedy remained a significant source of income, contributing substantially to his net worth.
In 2013, Lee co-founded the hugely successful podcast “TigerBelly” with his wife Khalyla Kuhn. The show’s raw, unfiltered, and often hilarious conversations about relationships, life, and pop culture resonated with audiences worldwide. “TigerBelly” became a cultural phenomenon, garnering millions of downloads and lucrative sponsorship deals, significantly boosting Lee’s net worth.
Lee’s entrepreneurial spirit didn’t stop there. He co-hosted another popular podcast, “Bad Friends” with fellow comedian Andrew Santino, further expanding his digital footprint and income streams.
Early Life And Education
Bobby’s story begins amidst the bustling suburbs of Poway, California. His parents, Jeanie and Robert Lee, Korean immigrants who built a life through their clothing stores, instilled in him and his younger brother, Steve, a strong work ethic and a deep appreciation for their cultural heritage. Yet, young Bobby harbored a different calling, one fueled by a mischievous glint in his eye and an innate ability to find humor in everyday life.
Despite attending local schools like Painted Rock Elementary, Twin Peaks Middle, and Poway High, Bobby felt a disconnect from the traditional academic path. He found solace in breakdancing, where his natural rhythm and comedic timing blossomed. The electrifying energy of street performances fostered a confidence that would later translate seamlessly onto the stand-up stage.
Following high school graduation, Bobby embarked on a path less traveled. He briefly enrolled at Palomar College, but the rigid structure clashed with his yearning for creative expression. Instead of textbooks, he embraced life experiences, taking up various jobs in restaurants and coffee shops. These seemingly mundane roles became fertile grounds for his comedic observations, providing him with a treasure trove of relatable anecdotes and colorful characters.
While serving lattes and slinging burgers, Bobby discovered a hidden talent: making people laugh. His impromptu jokes and witty banter drew chuckles from customers, igniting a passion for stand-up comedy. In the mid-1990s, he took the plunge, gracing the open mic nights of Los Angeles comedy clubs. Armed with his unique blend of self-deprecating humor, cultural commentary, and sharp wit, Bobby quickly carved his niche.
The road to success was paved with perseverance. Bobby honed his craft on the stand-up circuit, facing rejections and setbacks with unwavering determination. He landed small roles in television shows like “Nash Bridges” and “MADtv,” showcasing his versatility and comedic timing. Gradually, his talent garnered recognition, leading to bigger roles in films like “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” and “Pineapple Express.”
Today, Bobby Lee stands tall as a comedy powerhouse. His podcast, “TigerBelly,” co-hosted with his wife Khalyla Kuhn, boasts millions of listeners, offering raw, unfiltered conversations that resonate with audiences worldwide. His acting career continues to flourish, with appearances in acclaimed projects like “See” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
But Bobby’s influence transcends awards and accolades. His journey, rooted in unconventional choices and a relentless pursuit of passion, resonates with aspiring comedians and dreamers alike. He reminds us that laughter can bloom in unexpected places, and that sometimes, the greatest lessons are learned outside the confines of traditional education.
Bobby’s formative years were spent in San Diego, California. His Korean immigrant parents, Jeanie and Robert Lee, instilled in him a strong work ethic and a sense of cultural identity. While his parents ran clothing stores, young Bobby gravitated towards creative pursuits, joining a breakdancing crew in high school. Despite initial disapproval from his family, who envisioned a career in the family business, Bobby’s comedic instincts couldn’t be contained. He started performing stand-up in the early 1990s, navigating the rough-and-tumble world of open mics and comedy clubs with unyielding determination.
Bobby’s journey, however, wasn’t paved solely with laughter. He openly discusses his struggles with addiction, having experimented with drugs as early as 12 years old. By 17, he had battled heroin addiction, a testament to the darkness he grappled with. However, a turning point came in 2008 when he found sobriety, a feat he credits to his unwavering commitment and the support system he built around him. This triumph over personal demons serves as a beacon of hope, inspiring countless fans who resonate with his story.
In 2016, Bobby married Khalyla Kuhn, a comedian and podcast co-host who has become his anchor and creative partner. Their relationship, often showcased on their popular podcast “TigerBelly,” is a testament to vulnerability, open communication, and shared laughter. Khalyla’s unwavering support has been instrumental in Bobby’s personal growth, fostering a safe space for him to explore his emotions and navigate the challenges of fame.
While humor remains Bobby’s primary weapon, his influence extends beyond entertainment. He actively supports various charities and organizations, including the National Asian-Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). He uses his platform to raise awareness about mental health issues and addiction recovery, encouraging open dialogue and destigmatization.
Philanthropy and Activism
Lee’s struggles with mental health, including depression and anxiety, fueled his passion for raising awareness and destigmatizing these issues. In 2018, alongside Brendan Schaub, he co-founded the hugely popular podcast “The Fighter & The Kid,” which frequently addresses mental health and addiction with raw honesty and vulnerability. This open dialogue on such sensitive topics resonated deeply with listeners, creating a safe space for open conversations and encouraging many to seek help.
Lee’s commitment extends beyond the podcast. He actively supports organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Jed Foundation, lending his voice and resources to their crucial work.
Lee’s involvement in the cryptocurrency revolution dates back to its early days. He became an ardent Bitcoin advocate, recognizing its potential to empower individuals and create a more equitable financial system. In 2011, he co-founded BTCC, one of China’s first major Bitcoin exchanges, playing a pivotal role in bringing the technology to a broader audience. But Lee’s vision extends beyond mere adoption.
He established the Bobby Lee Foundation, dedicated to funding research and development projects that explore Bitcoin’s potential to address social and economic challenges. From promoting financial inclusion in developing nations to supporting educational initiatives, the foundation utilizes Bitcoin’s transformative power to create positive change.
While Bitcoin holds a special place in Lee’s heart, his philanthropic ventures extend far beyond the digital currency sphere. He has championed animal welfare causes, actively supporting organizations like the World Wildlife Fund. His compassion extends to disaster relief efforts, contributing to organizations like the American Red Cross to help communities rebuild after tragedies.
Education also finds a special place in Lee’s philanthropic endeavors. He has donated to his alma mater, Harvard University, and continues to support various educational institutions, recognizing the power of knowledge to unlock potential.
Assets and Investments
Lee’s path to financial success wasn’t paved with overnight fame. He honed his comedic skills through years of stand-up, steadily building a reputation for sharp wit and observational humor. Early television appearances on shows like “MADtv” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” laid the groundwork for his future success.
The year 2001 marked a turning point in Lee’s career with his breakout role as Johnny Cho in the HBO prison comedy “Entourage.” The role became his signature for several years, earning him critical acclaim and providing him with a steady income stream. He parlayed this success into other notable projects, including “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” (2004) and its sequels, further solidifying his comedic standing.
While the spotlight often shines on celebrity lifestyles, Lee has consistently remained tight-lipped about his personal finances. However, based on available information and industry estimates, it’s believed that a significant portion of his wealth (around 60%) is invested in the stock market. This diversified approach suggests a focus on long-term financial stability and growth, a testament to his responsible financial planning.
Lee’s investment strategy extends beyond the stock market. He reportedly owns multiple properties, including his primary residence – a luxurious 8-bedroom mansion in Bel Air, California, purchased in 2022 for over $5 million. While details about other properties remain scarce, it’s evident that real estate plays a role in his overall financial picture.
It’s crucial to remember that Bobby Lee’s wealth extends far beyond financial assets. He has built a loyal fanbase through his genuine personality, self-deprecating humor, and dedication to his craft. His podcast, “TigerBelly,” co-hosted with his wife Khalyla Kuhn, consistently ranks among the top comedy podcasts, further solidifying his connection with his audience.
Lee’s journey with collaboration began in the early 2000s with his entry into the world of sketch comedy. Joining the cast of “MADtv” in 2001, he found himself surrounded by a diverse group of comedic talents. Alongside Keegan-Michael Key, Phil Lamarr, and Jordan Peele, Lee honed his improvisational skills and comedic timing, contributing to iconic sketches like “The Wong Brothers” and “Mr. Ho Lee Fook.” In this environment, collaboration wasn’t just a professional necessity; it was a breeding ground for creative exploration and lifelong friendships.
Following his “MADtv” stint, Lee transitioned to stand-up comedy, finding a space where collaboration manifested differently. While stand-up is often seen as a solo endeavor, Lee has consistently championed the power of shared experiences. He co-founded the “Purple Lamborghini” comedy showcase in Los Angeles, providing a platform for up-and-coming comedians and fostering a sense of community within the stand-up scene. Lee’s collaborative spirit extends beyond formal groups, evident in his frequent appearances on other comedians’ podcasts and stand-up shows, always eager to share the stage and create laughter in tandem.
In 2018, Lee’s collaborative spirit reached new heights with the launch of his wildly popular podcast, “Bad Friends,” alongside Andrew Santino. Blending stand-up, improv, and unfiltered conversation, “Bad Friends” showcases Lee’s ability to build genuine rapport and comedic chemistry with his partner. The podcast’s success lies not just in their humor but in their dynamic as a duo, seamlessly riffing off each other and creating an undeniably entertaining space. “Bad Friends” has transcended the podcast format, evolving into live shows and collaborations on other projects, solidifying the strength of their comedic partnership.
Lee’s collaborative spirit isn’t limited to the comedy world. He has ventured into film, seeking opportunities to connect with diverse creative voices and tell impactful stories. In 2019, he co-starred in the romantic comedy “Always Be My Maybe” alongside Ali Wong, a film praised for its nuanced portrayal of Asian American relationships. Lee’s willingness to step outside his comfort zone and collaborate with different artists enriches his work and allows him to connect with audiences on new levels.
Lee’s collaborative spirit extends beyond entertainment, using his platform to raise awareness for important causes. He frequently teams up with other comedians and organizations to advocate for mental health awareness and destigmatize mental illness. His willingness to openly share his struggles and collaborate with others on initiatives like the “Stand Up for Mental Health” comedy show demonstrates his commitment to using humor as a tool for positive change.
Awards and Nomination
Bobby Lee’s comedic aspirations bloomed early. By the age of 17, he was już honing his stand-up skills, eventually landing spots on “Comedy Central Presents” and “The Late Show with David Letterman” in the late 1990s. His knack for witty observations and self-deprecating humor quickly captured audiences, paving the way for his transition to the silver screen.
The early 2000s saw Lee landing recurring roles in popular sitcoms like “Mad TV” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” While these showcased his comedic timing and versatility, it was his portrayal of Johnny Kim in the HBO series “Entourage” (2004-2011) that cemented his place as a comedic force. His character, a fictionalized version of himself navigating the Hollywood machine, became a fan favorite, garnering critical acclaim for its honest portrayal of Asian American experiences in the industry.
But Lee’s talents extend far beyond comedic roles. He showcased his dramatic range in films like “Pineapple Express” (2008) and “The Dictator” (2012), earning praise for his ability to seamlessly navigate between humor and pathos. In the independent film “A Better Life” (2011), he delivered a heart-wrenching performance as a struggling single father trying to provide for his son, receiving an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Male.
Beyond the accolades, Lee’s most significant contribution lies in his open and honest discussions about mental health. He has bravely shared his struggles with depression and anxiety, fostering empathy and understanding for these often-stigmatized issues. His podcast, “TigerBelly,” co-hosted with his wife Khalyla Kuhn, offers a platform for raw, unfiltered conversations about mental health, relationships, and life’s complexities, resonating deeply with listeners around the world.
While Bobby Lee’s trophy case may not overflow with golden statuettes, his impact on the industry and beyond transcends awards. He has broken barriers for Asian American representation in Hollywood, challenged stereotypes with his nuanced performances, and used his platform to advocate for mental health awareness. His comedic brilliance continues to bring laughter and joy, while his vulnerability inspires and empowers others. In this sense, Bobby Lee’s true awards are the hearts touched, the laughter elicited, and the conversations sparked – a testament to a career that goes beyond awards to make a real difference.
Significant Life events
Born Robert Soo Lee in San Diego on September 17, 1967, Bobby’s early life was shaped by cultural clashes and identity struggles. He found solace in comedy, influenced by legends like Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy. In his early 20s, he took the plunge into stand-up, honing his comedic timing and impersonation skills.
Bobby Lee big break came in 1994 when he joined the cast of MADtv, the iconic sketch comedy show. For seven seasons, Lee showcased his versatility, seamlessly switching between hilarious characters and spot-on celebrity impersonations. His portrayal of Asian stereotypes, done with intelligence and awareness, sparked conversations about representation and challenged Hollywood’s limited portrayals.
While still on MADtv, Lee landed a role in the 2000 stoner comedy “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.” The film, initially an independent production, became a cult classic, catapulting Lee and his co-star Kal Penn into the mainstream. His portrayal of the perpetually anxious Harold Lee marked a turning point, showcasing his ability to balance humor with vulnerability.
Throughout the 2000s, Lee continued to build his filmography, appearing in diverse projects like “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” “Pineapple Express,” and “Entourage.” He demonstrated his adaptability, playing everything from comedic sidekicks to dramatic characters in films like “A Perfect Day” and “The Departed.”
The path to success wasn’t without its hurdles. Lee openly discussed his struggles with addiction and mental health issues, raising awareness and inspiring others to seek help. He took a step back from Hollywood during this period, focusing on his well-being.
However, Lee never stopped working. He appeared in projects like “Zookeeper” and guest-starred on shows like “Arrested Development,” where he earned a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. His willingness to share his vulnerabilities resonated with audiences, solidifying his connection with his fans.
In 2018, Lee launched the “TigerBelly” podcast with his wife Khalyla Kuhn. The show, known for its honest and unfiltered conversations about relationships, mental health, and current events, quickly gained a dedicated following. Lee’s candidness and willingness to tackle difficult topics resonated with listeners, fostering a sense of community and open dialogue.
His podcast success hasn’t overshadowed his acting career. He appeared in the acclaimed rom-com “Always Be My Maybe” and starred in Netflix’s action thriller “No Escape.” He continues to find projects that challenge him creatively, proving his comedic and dramatic chops.
Impact and legacy
Bobby Lee’s foray into comedy began during his college years at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He honed his stand-up skills within the vibrant Los Angeles comedy scene, eventually landing guest appearances on shows like “MADtv” and “Comedy Central Presents” in the late 1990s. These early stints showcased Lee’s improvisational wit and ability to seamlessly blend observational humor with self-deprecating charm.
The turning point in Lee’s career arrived in 2004 with the cult classic stoner comedy, “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.” Lee’s portrayal of Harold Lee, a laid-back Korean-American alongside John Cho’s Kumar, catapulted him to mainstream recognition. The film’s success spawned two sequels, solidifying Lee’s comedic persona and his presence within the Asian American representation landscape. This marked a significant moment, as Lee became one of the few Asian American actors leading a major Hollywood comedy, paving the way for increased diversity in the industry.
While “Harold & Kumar” established Lee as a comedic force, his talent extended far beyond stoner humor. He showcased his dramatic chops in acclaimed films like “Pineapple Express” and “The Dark Knight,” demonstrating his ability to seamlessly transition between genres. Lee’s comedic brilliance continued to shine in television roles, notably in HBO’s “Entourage” as the lovable agent, Lloyd, and in ABC’s “Splitting Up Together” as the quirky father, Martin. He lent his voice to animated characters in “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” and “Big Hero 6,” further diversifying his repertoire and reaching younger audiences.
Beyond entertainment, Lee actively advocates for mental health awareness, openly discussing his struggles with anxiety and depression. This vulnerability resonates with audiences and encourages open conversations about mental health, especially within the Asian American community. Lee’s philanthropic efforts include supporting organizations like the Asian American Drug Abuse Program and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, exemplifying his commitment to using his platform for positive social impact.
Bobby Lee’s legacy extends beyond box office success and critical acclaim. He has become a beloved figure, lauded for his comedic gifts, dramatic versatility, and genuine persona. Lee’s dedication to mental health awareness has inspired countless individuals, solidifying his status as a role model for aspiring actors and audiences alike. He continues to push boundaries and break stereotypes, paving the way for increased representation and diverse narratives in Hollywood.
Where and when was Bobby Lee born?
Bobby Lee was born Robert Lee Jr. on September 17, 1971, in San Diego, California.
What is Bobby Lee family background?
Bobby Lee is of Korean descent. His parents owned clothing stores, and he has a younger brother, comedian Steve Lee.
Did Bobby Lee finish college?
Lee attended Palomar College but dropped out to pursue comedy.
Is Bobby Lee married?
Bobby Lee was married to Khalyla Kuhn from 2016 to 2021. He has no children.
Has he struggled with addiction?
Bobby Lee has openly discussed his past struggles with alcoholism and has been sober since 2019.
What are Bobby Lee’s hobbies and interests?
Lee is a passionate gamer, and Arsenal FC supporter, and enjoys stand-up comedy, podcasts, and music.
Does Bobby Lee support any charities or causes?
Bobby Lee has supported various charities, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Asian American Arts Centre. He has also been vocal about mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
How did Bobby Lee get into comedy?
Bobby Lee started doing stand-up in his early twenties and gained recognition with appearances on shows like “MADtv” and “Pineapple Express.”
What is Bobby Lee known for?
Bobby Lee is known for his energetic, unpredictable stand-up style, comedic acting, podcast hosting (“TigerBelly”), and collaborations with other comedians.
Is Bobby Lee still active in comedy?
Yes! Bobby Lee continues to tour, perform stand-up, and appear in various acting projects.
Who has Bobby Lee collaborated with?
Bobby Lee has collaborated with numerous comedians and actors, including Tommy Chong, Danny McBride, Phil Lamarr, Bill Burr, Joe Rogan, and his brother Steve Lee.
Has Bobby Lee won any awards for his work?
While not receiving major awards, Lee has gained critical acclaim and recognition throughout his career, including being named one of “Variety’s” 10 Comics to Watch in 2005.
What are some significant events in Bobby Lee life?
Joining the cast of “MADtv,” starring in “Pineapple Express,” launching “TigerBelly” podcast, overcoming addiction, and losing his father to Parkinson’s disease are some key events.
How has Bobby Lee impacted the comedy world?
Bobby Lee’s humor and openness about mental health have resonated with many, paving the way for increased representation and vulnerability in comedy.
Is Bobby Lee good at video games?
Yes! Bobby Lee is an avid gamer known for his skills in games like FIFA and Red Dead Redemption.
How tall is Bobby Lee?
Lee is 5 feet 5 inches (1.64 meters) tall.
Does Bobby Lee speak Korean?
While understanding some Korean, Lee primarily speaks English in his comedy and everyday life.