Comedy review: Wang In There, Baby! – Phil Wang, Astor Theatre, Perth

Phil Wang's comedy explores cultural differences between East and West.
Phil Wang. A young man in a green and blue top is waving.

Phil Wang is an English comedian who was born in Malaysia to a Chinese-Malaysian father and English mother and raised on the island of Borneo. A popular comedian in the UK, Wang’s fame has landed him a Netflix special and appearances in a range of shows. Wang is on a tour of Australia and New Zealand and performed at the Astor Theatre in Perth this week. 

Wang’s comedy grapples with cultural differences between European (mainly British) and Asian (mainly Chinese-Malaysian) people. From food to sex and superstition, Wang’s latest show straddled the whole gamut of matters in which cultures differ in fundamental ways. 

Wang’s nerdy appearance and laidback style belied his fairly provocative humour. His probing thought process took you to the logical, but nevertheless perplexing conclusions of many classic conundrums, such as the problem of differences in Ibuprofen pack sizes in the UK and US and what these differences may say about national temperament and character. Wang is very clever and a superb, sure-footed performer. His show in Perth was an absolute delight. 

This was a well-received, packed out show. One of this reviewer’s favourite parts was Wang’s starting segment, where he asked if there were any Malaysians in the audience. To Wang’s genuine surprise and slight bemusement, there were in fact several Malaysians in the audience, including a fair few people from the town in Borneo where Wang grew up. Wang felt obliged to ask fellow Malaysians with origins in the same town if they were all alumni of the same school. He hilariously declared what would have been a quick and perfunctory segment in a show in the UK had turned out to be a more sophisticated and convoluted one in Perth, which seemed rather fitting. 

Read: Exhibition review: David Serisier: Here and There, Orange Regional Gallery

The opening act of the evening was the brilliant local stand-up comic Brodi Snook, who did a marvellous job of harnessing the comic absurdities of pandemic dating and baby showers. Snook’s pithy takedowns of the social expectations single women face marked her out as a razor-sharp comedian with a penchant for social critique. 

Wang In There, Baby!
Performer: Phil Wang
Astor Theatre, Perth

Phil Wang performed for one night only on 6 November 2023.

Arjun Rajkhowa lives in Perth and enjoys writing about local arts and culture.