Review: Ronny Chieng: International Student, BBC3

When I first saw Ronny Chieng at the Edinburgh Fringe a few years ago his engaging autobiographical stand-up show was in part about being a reluctant but high-achieving law student in Australia. Well, they do say write about what you know and Chieng's debut TV series - cannily picked up by BBC3 – takes up where that show left off. Well, actually it rewinds a bit, following Chieng's adventures back on the Melbourne University campus.

Episode one finds his Malaysian Tiger Mother bossing him via Facetime even as he is on his way to his initial lecture, where he soon comes into conflict with one of the posh yuppies in the class. This results in a drinking contest, with the winner getting possession of the sole copy of the text book needed to complete the first assignment. On - appropriately  – conflict resolution.

The result is a show that makes up in charm for what it lacks in originality. We are on Ronny's side from the very start and along the way there is some nice, if occasionally cliched, culture clash humour as well as a particularly eccentric lecturer, a hipster gag and a cameo from stand-up Felicity Ward as a post-grad who has lost her marbles while writing her thesis.

There is also some photocopier-smashing, some streaking and some projectile vomiting, but this is certainly no gross-out comedy. It is far cleverer than that as you would expect from Chieng, who is probably best known for his monologues on America's The Daily Show. A running gag has him saying: "we had very different childhoods". Though actually maybe it turns out his childhood isn't that different to an Australian childhood after all...

Watch here.

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