Published Jul 24, 2019Modern times happen fast. Very recently, you couldn't find a JFL set that didn't include a lot of Donald Trump shit. That's to be expected — it was a bad new world.
Very quickly, the trend seemed to go in the opposite direction: Trump-free zones, pretty much. This period focused on escape — let's get together in this room and laugh, because we need to forget about all of this. Do some crowd work and tell me jokes about awkward moments, please. And there's a place for that. But if comedians are the modern-day philosophers, dick jokes are limited. (Sometimes. There are some good political dick jokes out there.)
Now, we're somewhere in between, and the comedy of Ronny Chieng is well timed. He's perhaps adventurous in this way, because he picks apart the divides that define these dangerous times. That's potentially incendiary, as he recalls with a story about a stint in London's Soho. Some people are quick to judge, and interrupt his setup before he gets to reveal that, actually, he agrees with you. Dangerous times indeed.
Some bad luck in that instance, but Chieng succeeds in the treacherous waters of race comedy. His case for an Asian in the White House is compelling, as is his take on a demographic voting response. There are many astute opinions in this space, and it feels okay to laugh at. This is surely because, along with being diligent and hard-working, Chieg is worldly. He's lived in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New York. His show, quite brilliantly, begins and ends in New York — and commendably, there are very few mentions of his Daily Show tenure.
If there are shortcomings, it might be in the fact that we are terribly far removed from a life in professional comedy. He also points out that if you review comedy, you're a masturbating piece of shit — so what do we know?