An Asian Queer Story: Coming Out to Dead People

With such an emotionally heavy title as An Asian Queer Story: Coming Out to Dead People, I was a little worried what to expect from this comedy show. However, as Ricky Sim walks onstage, there’s a sparkle in his eyes – a sparkle that never dimmed and was one of the shining lights throughout the hour.

This show was one of two halves

The main narrative of the shows concerns Sim’s sexuality and the devastatingly hard decision of whether or not to come out to his mum, who has terminal cancer, before she passes away. As I say, it’s heavy stuff. Luckily there are some good laughs throughout. Sim was strongest when he spoke about his life as a queer man. It was relatable and well performed. Some of the other routines felt a little underdeveloped. A potentially brilliant routine about some Urban Dictionary queer terminology wasn’t explored as much as I had hoped. I feel that in the first half of the show, there could have been more of a connection made between Sim and the audience. I felt like many in the crowd didn’t quite find that sweet spot of feeling comfortable enough to know what they could and couldn’t laugh at. As a result, some of the material didn’t feel like it was hitting as it should have been.

Where Sim shines is his powerful storytelling ability. The final 20 minutes of the show are incredible. As he speaks about his relationship with mum and her final moments with her, it's clear that so much preparation and passion has gone into this final routine. We as an audience hung on to his every word. Looking round, several tears were being shed from multiple audience members. It was such a powerful few minutes. It was this level of audience connection that I had wished for Sim’s first half.

For me, this show was one of two halves. Although I’m incredibly grateful to Ricky Sim that I’ll never think of binary code or the music of Sean Paul in the same way again, I know other material could, and should, have been stronger. In terms of his scripting and weaving in stories of his wonderfully brave mum into his set, it was magical to listen to.

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Reviews by James Macfarlane

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

In this dark, hilarious, and heartfelt coming-of-age solo show, US comedian Ricky Sim (New York Comedy Festival) wrestles with the decision of coming out of the closet to his traditional Chinese-Malaysian mother just as she is diagnosed with cancer. This stand-up and storytelling show, which was sold out in NY, explores the meaning of acceptance and grief within an immigrant family. It’s also a powerful reminder why we shouldn't think about our ancestors while having gay sex. 'Had me on a whole ass ride of laughter and tears!' (Non Kuramoto).

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