Review: Nigel Ng, Soho Theatre

Review: Nigel Ng, Soho Theatre

Nigel Ng picked up an Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nomination for his debut show Culture Shocked and it is easy to see why. The Malaysia-born stand-up is a natural comic storyteller, with a slick, easily accessible style. It is no surprise that The List compared him to Jerry Seinfeld, though I think he’s a little surlier than Seinfeld.

His run at the Soho Theatre was an interestingly timed one. The first night was cancelled because an unexploded WW2 bomb was found nearby and when he finally opened he also had to acknowledge the coronavirus, spotting a few Chinese fans in the audience and getting some healthy laughs out of their country’s situation.

A lot of the show though, as the title suggests, is about the differences between Malaysia and the UK. It’s the classic comedy of contrasts. When Ng arrived here he was delighted to be able to drink water straight from the tap - the worst thing you might find in our water, he quipped, is limescale. 

Elsewhere he talked about attitudes to education, air travel, toilets, food, tiger parenting and the weather. Occasionally the gags were a little on the low-hanging fruit side. His image of British women on a boozy night out, for example, was hardly groundbreaking and there was a cheap shot about Thai woman doing tricks with ping pong balls. But his classic rhythms and delivery consistently give his routines a comic flourish.

Sometimes the basic premise of a joke writes itself - he is comically outraged by the idea of pharmacy Boots selling sushi, for instance. And he has a lovely line about why he has such an English first name. At his best Ng has the skill to run with a notion and squeeze it for every laugh. 

Culture Shocked is an impressive debut show full of relatable material whether you are from the Far East or not that you could easily imagine being a TV special. What will be interesting now is where Ng goes - judging by the rolling waves he laughter he generated onstage I suspect the answer is further into the mainstream. 

Also Feb 19 & My 18. Buy tickets here.

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