Phil Wang: Wang in There, Baby!

Whatever you think Phil Wang’s Wang In There, Baby! Is going to be like, the reality of the show far surpasses it. It is a frankly ludicrous set that spans the comedy trifecta of personal, political and topical anecdotes, taking on spicy subjects like the danger of reheating rice, the versatility of the word slippers and how we can interpret the mood of a country based on how many ibuprofens can legally be sold at once.

Wang creates a kind of universality in the frustrations that he voices.

Pierre Novellie opens the show as Wang’s support act, and it is truly remarkable how harmonious the two sets are, both in content as well as the sheer exasperation of their delivery. Novellie and Wang go together like a proverbial beans on toast. They complement each other stylistically – both Wang and Novellie are observationist comics – and Wang’s set has all the appearance of picking up where Novellie leaves off. This adds an additional layer of comedy to Wang’s jokes when they line up with subject matter previously touched on by Novellie, whose 25 minutes focus on the dangers of listening to your body.

For the most part, Wang keeps an incredible pace, and just as you begin to think that he’s run out of steam, he ricochets off into a series of indignant rhetorical questions, edging us into agreeing with his way of thinking. Whether it is due to lack of stamina or the length of the bit itself, the pace dwindles towards the end, which gives the impression that Wang is rambling or reaching for topics, and noticeably differs from the start. It’s not particularly clear how Wang has made the connection to freeing nipples, and the constant explanation makes the joke less clear cut - which makes it a weak link in the show, with less overall payoff at the end.

Wang accomplishes a real feat of managing to be both logical and illogical at the same time. Whilst the set does come back full circle, considering the far-reaching and varied topics, there doesn’t seem to be a clear connection between the topics of the jokes themselves; on the one hand he is telling us something that has happened to him recently, playing down his own success and ability to reach milestones like buying his own apartment or writing a book, on the other hand he’s poking holes in racist politician’s complaints about immigration. The arguments presented within each joke are themselves clearly logical and Wang manages to make completely original viewpoints as well as tapping into a kind of common understanding among us about everyday bothers, providing a mental release that only comes from the knowledge that we’re not alone in our frustrations.

Wang In There, Baby! is a nebulous and completely unpredictable show, where Wang creates a kind of universality in the frustrations that he voices. There are moments of genuine hilarity that stem from a rather erudite critique of cultural and social annoyances interspersed with some light-hearted banter as he takes the time to poke fun at his tour mate.

Reviews by Katerina Partolina Schwartz

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Performances

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The Blurb

For his brand new stand-up show, Phil Wang’s chatting race, family, nipples and everything else that’s been going on in his Philly little life.

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