Five thoughts about...Ronny Chieng: The Ron Way
Andrew Mickel10 August 2013
Can the Melbourne fest best newcomer repeat his feat here? Probably not...
Ronny Chieng’s already wowed the audiences at Melbourne and is now making his Edinburgh debut with blunt, straight down the line stand-up on identity: he’s ethnically Chinese, grew up in Malaysia, his mum’s in Singapore and he lives in Australia. It’s a melting pot of identities to discuss - but the material has little of interest to say about them.
What interesting commentary can be found here focuses around Chinese stereotypes. As Chieng points out, there’s enough Chinese people in the world that whatever the norm is for Chinese society should be the benchmark that the rest of us are judged by. It is an interesting point well made, but there weren’t enough of them in the show.
It should be noted that this felt like a poor night for Chieng - 40 minutes in, there was a lot of audience interaction filler as he lost the thread on the show - something he never really recovered from. When he did return to the material, there was an unfortunate tendency to overexplain every joke going - and if a gag didn’t land, suggest it was going over the heads of people in the room.
Venturing beyond the identity material, Chieng does have some interesting things to say about BitTorrent and the internet. He’s willing to get stuck into jokes that other acts would probably write off for being too niche and wonkish, and good on him - it gives him some of his finest lines.
He has a belligerent style that works when he does material that suggests he doesn’t care whether the audience is with or against him. It’s not hard to imagine this being the locus around which he could cluster a fanbase, even if there’s more material come on the ‘who am I?’ lines.
Ronny Chieng is at the Underbelly Cowgate throughout the Fringe at 7.50pm.
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