Ronny Chieng: Chieng Reaction

comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 16 Aug 2015

There's a lot of anger in Ronny Chieng. Sure, his venom is magnified for comic effect, but it's telling that when he finally eases up on us it's to announce the availability of merchandise. A child of successful executives and a graduate from one of the planet's top five law schools, the guy was bred for greater financial stability than his career allows. He may well be grateful to the audience for choosing his show over others, but shrewd, business-minded attempts to augment his income are entirely in keeping with the character he plays. We want to give Chieng the benefit of the doubt, but even at his most gracious he seems like kind of a bad guy.

Described on his flyer as an "Australia-based Malaysian", his approach to comedy is quintessentially American. That is to say he ploughs through a series of unrelated routines without giving any thought to cohesion or structure. A new subject is usually heralded by the 29-year-old yelling petulantly into the microphone. “People on Facebook are so fucking stupid,” he might begin, or, “Is there anything more annoying than people saying you should've backed up data?”

He's equal parts Sadowitz and Seinfeld, and it's compelling watching a man lose his temper over nothing. Even a protracted routine on replacing a broken phone charger ends up a ground-breaking exercise in boredom-inducing rage. Caustic and incisive, if Chieng went all-out self-parody, he'd doubtless be a hit on these shores.