REVIEW: Ken Cheng: Chinese Comedian
Definitely not falsely advertised
As Ken pointed out in his show last night, it’s rather easy for him to accomplish 75% of what his show (Ken Cheng: Chinese Comedian) promises simply by standing on a stage.
I’d have to give him full marks for that part. He was indeed Ken Cheng. The remaining 25% (him being a ‘comedian’) is up for grabs.
Once everyone had got inside (the ticket queue stretched down the street), Orlando Gibbs warmed the at-capacity crowd up superbly, parodying Ken’s signature stand-up style with a pedantic, mathematical take on “killing two birds with one stone” delivered in a bizarrely, almost upsettingly, accurate replica of Ken’s voice.
After a while, Orlando got bored and decided to leave, ushering Ken himself onto the stage (although had I watched it blindfolded, and if Orlando had enough material, I feel that he could have done the entire hour himself and I could’ve left happily thinking I’d just listened to Ken).
I’ve seen Ken several times, and some of his material was recognisable. Still, it was undeniably funny: his logical, chopping wit scythed through the best way to represent shame on a graph, how to beat the Sainsbury’s meal deal, and the precise mechanics of having group sex in a bunk bed.
Ken was on solid footing here, keeping the crowd absolutely engaged as he perfectly timed punchlines. The impression was of a comedian very much at home with his material – it was nice to see in a stand-up scene frequently victim to comics nervously trying to deliver content as quickly as possible.
As we moved into the second half, the pace flickered a little. The material here seemed newer and in the one or two instances where Ken forgot his routine, he seemed a little rattled. Still, this is understandable – an hour’s worth of comedy is tricky, no doubt, to remember by heart.
Nonetheless there were some fantastic moments, including an extended analogy comparing abstinence before marriage to purchasing a car without ever driving it was hilarious, and Ken’s logical analysis of the description of the 72 virgins in Paradise rounded out the show with aplomb.
Ken’s comedy is frequently self-aware. This is initially very funny, but one wonders if Ken went slightly too far, repeatedly using callbacks of earlier material, but then reminding the entire audience that he was using a callback. At one point he even told the audience that he would end the show by recalling an earlier Star Wars piece and that despite him telling us this, we would still whoop and cheer and laugh.
He kept his word, ending the show with aforementioned Star Wars callback, and true, we did whoop and cheer and laugh, but I couldn’t quite escape the feeling that we would have whooped and cheered and laughed all the more had he not spoilt his own routine’s ending twenty minutes early.
Despite this, though, I think I speak for the rest of the packed house when I say that I thoroughly enjoyed his routine. The hour flew by, and it’s safe to say that Ken Cheng: Chinese Comedian was not mis-sold at all.
It was indeed Ken Cheng being a very, very amusing comedian.