Phil Wang needs this more than us, or so he tells the packed Pleasance venue he’s playing this year. Just as well he’s sold out his regular festival run this year, and even added an extra date in a much larger venue. How much do we need his new show though?
Wang has assembled an enjoyable, if occasionally confused, set this year
The answer is quite a bit. Wang has assembled an enjoyable, if occasionally confused, set this year with identity firmly at the heart of the often dense material. So, with one or two diversions thrown in, we go on a tour of Wang’s own identity – a recently single half English, half Chinese man who’s older now than he’s ever been.
On this journey we take in the apparent decrepitude which accompanies reaching 29 years of age; race wars and sport; gender; dating; contraception; performing accents, and morality in general. As hooks for comedy go, they’re a mixed bag – but although the weightier elements of the show can be a little clunky, they're balanced well with frothy fun. When the zingers come, they’re pretty zingy. It’s just that hey sometimes take a little while to arrive.
Still, throughout his set Wang is an affable and compelling host capable of sliding through material which often runs close to the bone. For the most part he manages to do so successfully, using a mixture of well thought out setups and steady, well-practised delivery.
What we’re served up then, is a smart and funny, content-heavy set which can get a little jumbled but is ultimately a fun and funny way to spend an hour. There are gags, there are interesting insights, there are accents, and most importantly there are laughs. If you’ve enjoyed any of Wang’s work in the past, it’s definitely worth trying to track down an elusive ticket to one of his shows this year.