Star Scene: Ronny Chieng

One day Ronny Chieng was the darling of the Australian comedy circuit and boom, in a flash he’s moved to New York indefinitely as the new correspondent of The Daily Show with host Trevor Noah and appearing with correspondents actress Desi Lydic and actor and stand up comedian Roy Wood Jnr which airs in the US on Monday, 28th September. In his typical deadpan fashion, Chieng tells us how this gig of a lifetime came about; “I was asked to audition for it. I got emails to send in an audition tape. I had to write my own piece and do an episode, so I took a camera into my house in Melbourne Australia and was lucky enough to get a call back. Between Montreal and the UK, a couple of days later they wanted me for the final audition. Last week they called me to give me the job. I have moved to new york indefinitely.”

Malaysian born, Singapore and US raised Chieng, moved to Melbourne to study law at the University of Melbourne. Being the son of Chinese parents, the pressure on following a successful, professional career is high, so given his recent success Chieng informs us that his parents have finally accepted his career path as a comedian. “I actually talk about it in my show. Yeah they’re ok with it.”

His foray into comedy crept up on him and happened when he was still a student. There wasn’t a lightbulb moment, where Chieng thought this is what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. “I never had to stop – I never had a real job. I was in university and I decided to try it. There wasn’t really a defining moment . I kept doing it. It was a slow build, rather than a sudden choice.”

Chieng won the Director’s Choice Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2014 and whilst gracious about receiving the award, he humbly explains that due to the nature of comedy, he’s hard pressed to explain being the recipient of the award. [pullquote]”It shows recognition by the festival. How can you win comedy? It’s so subjective. Its good to get accolades.”[/pullquote]“It shows recognition by the festival. How can you win comedy? It’s so subjective. Its good to get accolades.”

Every job has its pressures and being a comedian is no exception. Chieng tells us about the challenges that come with being a comedian and dealing with hecklers. “Doing live performance every day, that can be a challenge. Making sure that your jokes are funny- probably the biggest challenge and to keep coming up with new material. Being on tour, is tough.  With hecklers, it really depends on the situation. If its a one off thing you can let it slide, or you can work with it, or kick them out – there’s no set answer. Sometimes you just do nothing, they can be very disruptive.”

When describing his comedy in food form, Chieng says “That’s a tough one.- I don’t know. I feel like my comedy is in between fast food and fine dining. Some where in between there. 

New York has such a strong, hip food culture that Chieng is looking forward to eating out at many of the local food hotspots. It’s no surprise that he is a foodie, whose scene centres around food.[pullquote]”My scene at the moment is good food, good vibes, more chilled out. My scene is eating at good comfortable places. It doesn’t have to be more expensive, it just has to be good.” [/pullquote]“My scene at the moment is good food, good vibes, more chilled out. My scene is eating at good comfortable places. It doesn’t have to be more expensive, it just has to be good.”Whilst Chieng is a little taken aback about what he plans to do after the Daily Show wraps up, given that the show is a monumental deal, he does have some more projects lined up; “I’ve got an Australian TV pilot, hopefully filming at end of year, and stand up.”

Chieng has cancelled many of his stand up shows in Australia due to relocating to the US for the daily show, but is still performing the following shows below;

The revised tour schedule for You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About is as follows:


Perth – Regal Theatre – Friday October 9
Darwin – Entertainment Centre – Friday October 16
Geelong – GPAC – Thursday October 22
Bendigo – Capital Theatre – Friday October 23
Newcastle – Civic – Saturday October 31
Brisbane – Powerhouse – Saturday November 7
*Tickets holders for all the cancelled shows above will be contacted by ticketing outlets and provided with refunds


Canberra – Canberra Theatre – Thursday October 29
Chatswood – Concourse – Friday October 30
Sydney – Enmore Theatre – Thursday November 19*
*Ticketek will contact ticketholders from the rescheduled September 25 show in Sydney

In just four years the Malaysian-born Chinese comedian has jettisoned from his first ever gig in a small room at Melbourne Uni to 2012 MICF Best Newcomer and shows at the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Town Hall, London’s SOHO Theatre and Montreal’s Just for Laughs TV Gala. But 2015 will be Chieng’s biggest year yet. Having made his US TV debut on The Late Late Show earlier this year, Chieng also toured Australia and NZ as US comedian Bill Burr’s requested support.

In 2014 he released his debut Live comedy album, The Ron Way which was recognized with a 2014 ARIA Award nomination for Best Comedy Release. He performed sold out solo shows in Singapore and Malaysia, as well as toured Asia and India as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow. He supported international acts Dave Chappelle, Bob Saget and Mike Epps, co-hosted Triple J Drive for the Doctor, and added to his growing list of local TV credits (S2 SBS’s Legally Brown, S2 ABC’s It’s A Date, This is Littleton, Have You Been Paying Attention?). He also added two more awards to his vast collection – the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s Directors’ Choice award, and the Sydney Comedy Festival’s Best Show. He has twice been nominated for Helpmann Award for Best Comedy Performer (2014 & 2015).

Don’t miss your last chance to see Chieng perform live in Australia this year.


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About Anna-Maria Megalogenis 162 Articles
Anna-Maria has been writing for Street Press in Melbourne and Sydney for over 20 years. She is passionate about food, music and the arts, is an avid reader and used to hand write reviews for Beat Magazine at the Great Britain Hotel, where a patron once suggested she was ripping off articles in Rolling Stone magazine.