Ronny Chieng Likens Comedy to Playing With Dynamite

The actor-comedian tells us why he doesn’t want to be just the best asian comic, but the best comic all around.

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Ronny Chieng Likens Comedy to Playing With Dynamite
Business of HYPE
4,032 Hypes 3 Comments

Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders, entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. For today’s episode, we sit down with comedian, actor Ronny Chieng.

By day, he’s the senior correspondent for The Daily Show, and by night, he’s a stand-up comedian headlining on international tours, landing Netflix specials and starring in movies. Raised in Singapore by way of Malaysia, Ronny began pursuing comedy while in law school in Australia. Despite passing the Australian bar exam, he began performing comedy sets all throughout Melbourne and gained enough momentum to perform with Trevor Noah in 2013’s Just For Laughs festival in Montreal.

It wasn’t until two years later that Ronny would land a job on The Daily Show. Up until then, he had been focused on building a fanbase off of live sets rather than going the mainstream television route. Instead of molding his brand to fit a common narrative, Ronny used comedy as a way to tell authentic, unfiltered stories that had not been supplied before in the Australian market.

“In story-telling, authenticity resonates. People could feel we were saying stuff that was describing real experiences in Australia, and that resonated with people. It’s an indictment on Australian TV. They should have told those stories, but because they never told those stories…we were able to.”

Since 2015, he’s been on The Daily Show and has performed at numerous sold out international shows. His sets are filled with fervor and impassioned speech, discussing topics like racism, consumerism and immigration, all of which offer an insightful perspective on American culture. Having moved to New York at the turn of his 30s, Ronny tells us that as he matures his comedy gets edgier, because for him, comedy is often about “crossing the line.”

Later on, Ronny discusses his future plans, the smoke and mirrors in Hollywood, and the boxed narrative of being an asian comedian in America. He emphasizes the importance of recognizing the mass diaspora within the asian community, and how for him, he “didn’t want to be the best asian comic, but just the best comic.”

As always, thank you for tuning into HYPEBEAST Radio and Business of HYPE. Don’t forget to leave a comment and write a review. Feel free to ask Jeff any questions on Twitter @jeffstaple or via email at questions@businessofhype.com

This episode features references to the following:

08:50 – Early life
11:00 – Pursuing comedy
14:00 – First gig
19:47 – Moving to NYC
20:23 – The Daily Show
25:58 – Importance of authenticity
29:10 – Business in Australia vs the U.S.
34:00 – Workday schedule
37:36 – Working in Hollywood
44:10 – Jon M. Chu
49:28 – Netflix
55:00 – Personal branding
57:58 – The art of a good joke
65:23 – Business side of ticket sales
70:36 – Being an asian comic

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Episode Transcript

Ronny Chieng Likens Comedy to Playing With Dynamite

The actor-comedian tells us why he doesn’t want to be just the best asian comic, but the best comic all around.