Nick Slack reviews Phil Wang: Kinabalu at Pleasance, Edinburgh
For any who have seen Phil Wang in the past, you would be forgiven for expecting his latest show to be an hour filled with content aimed at a more juvenile sense of humour. In the case of Kinabalu, his offering at the fringe this year, you would be wrong. This is a show in which the young comedian celebrates achieving his ‘goal’ of becoming an adult, providing an hour of laugh-a-minute introspective material largely based on his heritage as a British East Asian which includes one of the most intelligent and amusing demonstrations of white privilege I have come across.
That is by no means to say that those craving Wang’s repertoire of childish humour are left wanting; after a short opening sequence Wang recalls his first purchase of lube, which along with impressions of himself attempting to speak Chinese ensures that Wang’s brand of comedy is unmistakably present. However, the show lacks the interaction with the audience that has formed memorable parts of previous performances and is noticeable given the intimate venue.
What distinguishes this show is the way in which Wang juxtaposes childish humour with more mature themes; the material is very well put together and any weaknesses are addressed humorously in an impressive show of self-awareness. Wang toes the line of controversial opinion with comments on issues ranging from racism to Brexit but the frequency of self-deprecation and unexpected punchlines allows the audience to remain relaxed and laughing throughout.