JB-born Oz-based stand-up comic Ronny Chieng is a highlight at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow in KL.
There’s no harder trade in the entertainment world than the art of making people laugh. One bad joke and you’re done. Nothing else matters. You scramble through your repertoire, desperately trying to redeem yourself, but you know deep inside you’re a sitting duck. If audiences could have their way, they’d hurl eggs and tomatoes at you.
Stand-up could well be the hardest comic art form. So why do comedians venture into it? Is it worth it? For Malaysian-born – Johor Baru, if you’re keeping track – stand-up comic Ronny Chieng being on stage in front of a live audience and delivering his set is well worth it.
Based in Melbourne, Chieng says it’s all about the thrill and excitement he gets from making an audience laugh. “What really excites me about the whole making-people-laugh business is the very fact that I can make people laugh!” he says in an e-mail interview.
The comedian, who grew up in Singapore and the US, and studied at the University of Melbourne, will be part of a two-day Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow that starts tomorrow at PJ Live Arts Theatre in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Chieng is joined on this tour by four other Aussie comics: Harley Breen, Joel Creasy, Anne Edmonds and Luke McGregor.
The festival, which celebrates its 28th year, is the third-largest comedy event in the world, behind the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Montreal Just For Laughs Festival. Melbourne’s festival, which includes cabaret, street performance, theatre and visual arts, aims to develop and showcase new Australian talent.
The road show usually travels outside Melbourne at the end of the season to bring these comic minds to a wider audience. This KL show will mark Chieng’s Malaysian debut. For the comic who holds degrees in law and commerce, the festival is an exhilarating avenue for audiences to experience “the best stand up comedy in Australia at the moment”.
Chieng, who won Best Newcomer at the 2012 festival for his debut show The Ron Way, says he draws inspiration for his humour from everyday experiences. If you look at his official Facebook page, which has nearly 4,500 fans, you will come across one-liners and hilarious daily observations from the 28-year-old.
Chieng has steadily built his international credentials in the stand-up world in the last two years. He’s been invited to perform at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and the Soho Theatre in London’s West End.
Chieng, who’s been on the scene for five years, believes his repertoire will be relatable to Malaysians and that we’ll get the nuances of his jokes. Apart from his comic routines, some delivered in basic Mandarin for laughs, he also pokes fun at the complexities of Asian stereotypes. His new show, Chieng Reaction, opened in March at the Brisbane Comedy Festival and has already become a touring hit in Australia.
“I think my jokes are pretty universal. I don’t think I refer to anything that only Australians will understand,” he asserts. So how about a teaser? “No freebies! Come watch the show like everyone else.”
> The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow is on Friday July 4 and Saturday July 5 at PJ Live Arts Theatre in Jaya One, on Jalan Universiti, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Curtain is at 8:30pm. Tickets are RM80 and RM100. Discounts for group bookings are available. Call PJ Live Arts at 03-79600439, PJLA box-office at 017-2289849, or visit www.tix.my. For other details, visit www.pjlivearts.my.