What are Malaysians in London famous for except Battersea Power Station, Genting Casinos and authors (umm, that would be me)? Meet young comedy genius, Nigel Ng from Kuala Lumpur, an award-winning stand-up comedian. He performs at comedy clubs here and abroad. He won Amused Moose’s Laugh Off in 2016 and was selected to be part of the prestigious Pleasance Comedy Reserve in 2017. I watched his Malaysian Sensation show at the Wandsworth Arts Fringe festival in 2018 on 13th May (the date of which is notorious only to Malaysians due to an unfortunate bloody event in our political history). I talked to him after the show, and was thrilled to jump into comfort chatting in Mandarin, which happens to be both our first languages.
How long have you been performing?
When did you decide to become a comedian?
I started at university and then I realised I was quite funny at parties. I was doing horribly for 3 years performing and 4 years in I thought to myself: “I think I can do this.” From then on I decided to go full time.
How did you parents react when you told them you’re not going to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, accountant?
(Laughs) They are Asian parents. To be fair they are quite cool with me doing anything I want as long as I am happy because I was the fist kid in the family to study abroad. I am the golden child.
Where did you go to University and what did you study?
In USA. Northwestern University. Engineering and philosophy.
How hard do you think it is for Asians to be represented in the comedy industry?
Maybe it is more uncommon. When I do smaller town gigs people think ‘oh that’s unusual, an Asian guy?!’ but then you go on stage you just have to show them you are funny and then they get over it. ‘OK he’s fine.’
Does comedy does bring people together?
They are willing to listen but if they are not listening you have to work a bit harder. Sometimes it does not work.
Maybe our (Asian) culture does not prize someone being outspoken or opinionated. Asian culture is about obedience and following the rules and is not focused on freedom of expression unlike Western cultures. But that is changing as Asians are going abroad and growing up in a Western environment too.
Tell us about your next project quickly.
I am recording for stand up central Comedy Central tomorrow (Monday 14 May), 6 minute set. My TV debut.
That is a big deal, no?!
Yes! I am also going to Edinburgh Comedy Festival for the full month to do the same 45 min Malaysian Sensation show.
Chris Ramsey’s stand up central Comedy Central is filmed live at the Electric Ballroom in Camden.
He is also playing at the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Festival in August. He will be at Venue 85, Laughing Horse @City Cafe. Check him out here, if you are in Scotland!
I totally enjoyed the show, it was a great laugh and I was crying. Comedy is our single most successful arts and culture export as I keep telling everyone. Only Malaysians can do funny and upsetting at the same time.