Phil Wang: Kinabalu




Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

I’ve previously only been aware of Phil Wang from his (perfectly pleasant) appearances on TV panel shows. Seeing him do standup has made me completely reassess him. From the moment this young comedian walks onto the stage of the Pleasance Beneath and launches into a convoluted introduction, he has me laughing. By the time we’re halfway through the set this has developed into something approaching hysteria, until there are actual tears streaming down my face. It’s something to do with his doomed attempts to ‘be cool,’ the occasional owlish glances over the top of his spectacles, his clever wordplay and playful invention. All these elements combine to create comedy gold. The section where he describes going to the supermarket to buy ‘lube’ is so funny I actually have difficulty breathing.

Mind you, it’s not all mindless laughter. Wang, the son of a Malaysian father and an English mother, has some interesting observations to make on the nature of nationality and about being a true ‘son of the Empire.’ As somebody who spent much of his childhood in Malaya (as it was then known), I found this aspect of his show particularly interesting, but Wang has the good sense to disguise his message as more humour. Laugh and learn, baby, laugh and learn.

Every year at the Fringe I make some personal discoveries. This year, the first of them is that Phil Wang is one of the funniest comics I’ve seen. Either that, or I’ve gone down with some kind of weird hyena virus.

5 stars

Philip Caveney

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