Raising the roof: Australian stand-up comedian Ronny Chieng didn’t disappoint with his solo show.
It was a dark and stormy night. A dramatic setting for Australian stand-up comedian Ronny Chieng’s quick return to these shores.
Chieng, who was born in Johor Baru, was part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow at PJ Live Arts Theatre, Jaya One, Petaling Jaya, Selangor in July.
By the time Chieng’s solo show had started – only about 10 minutes late – at the same venue the rain had dissipated. Chieng alluded to this very slight delay being unusual for those used to Malaysian-timing.
And that ladies and gentlemen, was his only local reference for the almost 70-minute show.
Which was not surprising since he was raised in America and Singapore before leaving for Melbourne for his degree in Commerce and Law. That was something Chieng wove into his routine – his international upbriginging and his pursuit of academic credentials.
Based on the promo of this night-only show on a local cable channel, I was under the impression he had a very unenergetic style. But I’m happy to report it was anything but – Chieng had a rapid-fire, high energy routine that barely paused. Like the rain earlier, the jokes came at the audience at full force.
To say he took the full house auditiorium by storm would not be an exaggeration. They certainly seemed to lap up his jokes.
Again perhaps that too is not surprising as this 29-year-old has garnered a slew of awards during his short career. This particular show, Ronny Chieng – Chieng Reaction won the prestigious Directors’ Choice Award at the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival and was named Best Local Show at the Sydney Comedy Festival. Of course, there have been other awards and acclaim like being invited to perform at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, Canada two years ago and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year.
Chieng cleverly used his routine to occasionally allude to his accolades but it was all in the spirit of fun. It even called to attention his work on Australian TV.
And all because he had happened to buy salmon at the supermarket. If the salmon can swim upstream to spawn, Chieng can spawn some jokes out of salmon.
He has a habit of eye twitching and scrunching when he gets intense. Initially, I was wondering if that was his way of trying to remember his lines. As the show continued, I realised it was one of his peculiarities.
The comedian, who has a slight resemblance to Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan, was very smooth as he worked his routine, inserting some running jokes in different segments. Family and personal experiences were also not spared in Chieng’s blistering set.
While I came out of the show feeling entertained, I have to admit there were very few actual LOL moments. The smart Chieng (the double-degree was not for nothing) took into account the possible responses from his audience. He even took a dig at me – well, not personally – but at reporters, maybe to cover critics. Well, I got the joke (and I laughed).
The LOL moments, for me, were the segments on Aussies being sticklers at belting up while driving, apologising to women (a particular apology), the Mac store and being … uhm, respectful. His talents also extended to marketing as he peddled his products (DVDs, CDs, vinyl record, etc) while weaving them into his routine.
You got to give it to Chieng, he’s no idiot. As he said himself, only those below 25 are.