FOUR MINUTES WITH Ronny Chieng
1 KNOWS WHAT HE’S TALKIN’ ABOUT
Has stand-up comedian Ronny Chieng hit his peak yet? Doubtful. It doesn’t appear there is an end to his ascent anytime soon. The 29-year-old Melbourne-based, Malaysian-bred, former law student scored a five-star review for his show You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, took it to Sydney’s Comedy Festival and now he’s in Montreal at Just For Laughs. Destroying it. “I got on the Jane Lynch Gala and I’ve been opening for Bill Burr here. Things are going well,” he understates.
2 NOT A LAW-TALKING GUY
Chieng left his Lionel Hutz leanings behind in 2011, much to the chagrin of his parents. That is until he tied for Best Newcomer at the MICF in 2012 with Matt Okine and things started cooking. “That hope is always there that I’ll return to law school,” he says. “I have to reassure them.” His ranty-yet-warm style needs to be heard in large venues, not stuffy court rooms. However, not all rooms are created equal, something Australia’s most popular comic explained to him. “I messaged Wil Anderson on Facebook for advice; he invited me to his house.”
3 SAFE AS HOUSES
“Wil has taken a lot of time out to help me. I asked him how he did the US, I asked him how he found it when he moved to LA, any pitfalls, what to look out for, how to deal with industry people and which gigs are good and which are bad,” he says. “He just called lots of people up and said ‘What’s this room like? Is this gig legit?’” Chieng has managed to make his own way in his career too. “I didn’t go the corporate route like all my friends. Instead of corporate, capitalist security ... I had insecure artistic freedom,” he chuckles.
4 CONTROLLING THE IDIOT BOX
Chieng has gone on to do plenty of TV work: Legally Brown, It’s a Date, This Is Littleton, Have You Been Paying Attention? and Double Dribble. There’s something else in the works too. “I should be able to talk about it in a month. I don’t wanna be the one to leak it,” he says. One word hint? “It’s TV, so ‘television’.” On this tour he takes down another TV show, Border Control, as well as tackling subjects like creepy vs romantic and foot fetishes. “I’m confident the show is decent enough that I’ll just do the stuff I want to do. I don’t pander,” he says.