“The joke was about playing footsies with my sister, all right? You made me say it.” Senior Correspondent at “The Daily Show” Ronny Chieng revealed, during a performance hosted by the NYU Program Board in the Rosenthal Pavilion on the 10th floor of Kimmel last Thursday, that this was the punchline to the first joke he ever told. He struggled to remember the set up, as did his wife when he turned to her for help, but claimed it wouldn’t have made it much better anyway. Though he may be modest about his beginning in the world of stand up comedy, his dexterity in the craft today is plain, and he takes the stage with ease.
“Honestly, making people laugh, that’s the best part,” Chieng said. “I think it’s an important show, in terms of informing people in an entertaining way. I don’t know how many minds we change with it, but I think a lot of people watch it to learn information in an interesting way or process some bad information which they’ve heard about.”
He said that offering that service is the most fun. That, and the free fruit.
Chieng followed opener Sam Morril, who has appeared on “The Late Show” and “Inside Amy Schumer” and entertained the crowd with jokes about relationships and breakups. The audience seemed to enjoy itself, but Morril suggested it was a little hard to please after some hesitant laughter at a few touchy punchlines.
Chieng’s set on Thursday touched on politics without being consumed by it. Dripping with sarcasm, Chieng started his performance with a dramatic rant on consumerism and a hilarious depiction of a man on a crowded New York City subway who just won’t let the doors close without him and wait for the next train. In a room of liberal New York college students, this went over with much laughter and applause.
“My jaw is hurting,” SPS junior Shorifu Siddiki said after the show.
Chieng’s overtly political punchlines included an interesting take on why President Donald Trump is immune to criticism and why Chelsea Clinton might be the one to blame for her mother’s email debacle. (His take: Don’t grandmas ask their kids how to use email?)
Comedy and politics seem to go hand in hand in today’s climate. When asked by WSN whether it is a comedian’s responsibility to comment on this, Chieng responded in the negative.
“No — it’s weird that comedy has such a position in pop culture where everyone, it’s in a position to be criticised by everybody,” Chieng said. “I think it comes with the territory of a platform that’s so popular. So I don’t think most people think of it as a responsibility or their job, it’s more like, when you do comedy, you just do what makes you laugh and whatever happens happens afterwards … If your style of comedy is talking about current events or what’s happening to you, it’s affected by politics and you have no choice but to do that. If your style of comedy is ‘I don’t want to talk about politics,’ then you don’t.”
“Ronny Chieng is a great guy and a model citizen,” Program Board Lectures Chair and event organizer Kavi Wijayaratne, a senior in CAS, said. “I gave him a star fruit.”
For those that were not able to make it to Chieng’s stellar performance, there is more of him on “The Daily Show,” weeknights at 11 p.m on Comedy Central.
A previous version of this article stated that Sam Morril has appeared on “The Daily Show,” when in fact he has appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 30 print edition.
Email Anubhuti Kumar at [email protected]