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Review: Johor-Born Ronny Chieng Proves Why He’s One of Australia’s Top Comedians With Homecoming Show
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Review: Johor-Born Ronny Chieng Proves Why He’s One of Australia’s Top Comedians With Homecoming Show

by Deric EctJune 22, 2015

Ronny doesn’t play it safe.

His jokes make culture-specific references (there’s some abalone talk) and his onstage tantrums go on for quite some time.  He boasts of his achievements a fair bit, and has material centering around the fact that he’s “famous now”.

He doesn’t play by the book either: Ronny Chieng disintegrates the rule of threes when he needs to make a point and ends up repeating far more than is probably necessary.

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Ronny performed over three nights at PJ Live Arts, Jaya One last weekend.

How did Ronny turn out this way?

You see, Ronny is quite renowned in Australia, where he’s spent most of his life. This Johor-born resident of Melbourne hit it big surf-side when he went down the comedy route, abandoning his extensive law education.

However, Ronny is the one Malaysian grabbing headlines overseas for all the right reasons at the moment! For those subscribed to Comedy Central Asia, you may have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of his material prior to his arrival in Kuala Lumpur.

Ronny is hilarious.

As a comedian, Ronny has a very interesting style in which he spends a good amount of time ranting on stage and generally just being annoyed with the world. He also has brilliant moments of absurdity (he recounts the difficulty of killing a horseshoe crab at one point) and at times, he refuses to budge from a scene, choosing instead to repeat a phrase over and over again for comedic effect.

Last weekend, during the opening night of You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About at PJ Live Arts, Ronny greatly pleased the masses as well as spies from the underground comedy scene. He did this with non-stop anecdotes and jokes, taking potshots at Asian culture, social media, under-25s and everything in between.

While hardly groundbreaking themes, Ronny surprised us by basing a significant amount of his set on very specific issues, for example Twitter and Facebook usage. One of the highlights of opening night was a lengthy Twitter conversation read without pause to fascinating yet highly amusing results. The exchange was between Ronny and a detractor, and it worked as effectively as it was bizarre.

Ronny was pretty much spot on with his material for the night. His repertoire felt less like a collection of jokes and more like a series of epiphanies: prepare for some how did I not see that moments.

His observation on youth may relate more to Australians than Malaysians (“**** the police! **** the police,” he scowls as he mimes a skateboard jump) and his take on family life may resonate better with those of oriental blood, but it’s all still very, very amusing.

Ronny is also a comedian’s comedian.

“The best part of the show is his energy,” stated local comedian Haikal Idris who was present for the performance.

“For a lot of comedians, it’s hard to find a style that fits your personality. You write jokes based on your style, and it’s difficult to do.”

“With Ronny, he’s just constant. From start to finish, he doesn’t take a breath to stop that train. He keeps going; he’s just like Mad Max: Fury Road — his momentum just keeps on going.”

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Based on the reaction from some local talents, it’s safe to say that Ronny appeals to practitioners as much as he appeals to the masses.

In fact, given all of Ronny’s qualities it was only fair that Malaysia’s princess of comedy Shamaine Othman was chosen to warm up audiences. Opening for You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About, Shamaine held her own.

“Ronny asked [Kuah] Jenhan, I think, to suggest an opening act for his show, and Jenhan suggested my name and… yeah!” explained Shamaine after her performance.

“He’s one of my favourite comics, and I’m not just saying that, but he’s one of the comics I always follow on Youtube.”

Like Ronny, Shamaine too looked to her heritage for some solid gold moments although she leaned towards more daring content driven by sexuality and romantic relationships.

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Shamaine Othman was Ronny Chieng’s opening act at PJ Live Arts last weekend.

Funnyman Sim Tong compares Ronny to a well-known American comic when asked to explain his style to readers.

“Comedy is hard to describe, but Ronny’s style is similar to another one of my favourite stand-up comedians, Bill Burr,” he opined.

“Where their comedy comes from — you can tell it’s from somewhere deep — and their body language and the words they use… both are similar in a way and I really like them both.”

Sim calls Bill Burr his comedian of choice and is pleased that he now has Ronny to look forward to as well. Ronny himself declares Bill Burr as one of his own heroes and has even opened for Bill earlier in the year.

What else can we tell you about Ronny?

Aside from being nominated for and winning a bunch of comedy awards, Ronny is also a Cleo’s Bachelor of the Year nominee in 2014. Missed his shows? Don’t worry — they’re available on vinyl, DVD and even USB and you get them all from his online shop.

Ronny’s next stop will be Quebec, Canada, but he’ll be doing his thing at The Esplanade in Singapore on the 2nd of October, so drive on down, folks. For more than that, we urge readers to go look him up on Youtube, follow him on Facebook and make sure to watch him the next time he’s in town.

About The Author
Profile photo of Deric Ect
Deric Ect
Deric is contributor and former managing editor of The Daily Seni.

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