The Time I Got Tipsy With Ronny Chieng

7 June 2017

It’s February. It’s 35 degrees. I’m sitting in a bar with Daily Show Correspondent, Ronny Chieng. We both have gin and tonics in our hands. Ronny is in a nicely done up suit, his hair is slick, his wit destructive. Everything about Ronny reeks of hilarity.

Ronny studied a Bachelor of Law/Commerce at the University of Melbourne, but more importantly his first ever comedy gig was in Union House, where he won the campus comedy competition.

With a ring of mirth in my voice, I ask what was more practical. A three-year degree he would never utilise, or those five minutes on stage which would inspire a self-proclaimed nerd to go on and perform wonderful things in the world of comedy?

Ronny bursts out with laughter, “That is a surprisingly tough question.”

“My friends at the time said don’t do it, you will die,” Ronny tells me between a sip of a gin and a smile.

The rest is history.

Ronny’s new show, Ronny Chieng: International Student, takes him back to where it all began. Ronny’s passion for the show is clear.

“I wanted to tell a story. Not only one that I knew well, but, I wanted to talk about this kind of dream-like period of my life,” Ronny says of his university days.

Ronny talks about starting university as, “That time when you think you’re an adult, but you’re not really. You think you have the answers, but you don’t. You’re trying to figure yourself out. I wanted to capture those feelings.”

It is often said that pain is central to comedy and Ronny has found a nuanced way to show how those hard moments in his younger days built the platform for happy moments in the future.

“I had big highs and very big lows, I look back, and that’s part of life,” Ronny tells me earnestly.

Ronny and I grab another gin and we joke about the waiter who keeps asking us if we want another drink on top of what we already have.

“I want you guys to know, I don’t condone alcohol!” Ronny yells into the voice recorder. The waiter watches confused, as we both try to quell our laughter.

I ask about the opening to his series’ pilot episode. When Ronny is talking to his Mum who pleads with Ronny to use protection during O-Week.  I ask what Ronny’s Mum thinks of her portrayal?

“She has no idea,” Ronny jokes.

“The hilarious thing is while watching that she wouldn’t laugh. She’d say ‘yes, that is the right way to do things’, he laughs.

Ronny is an amazingly humble, lovely and beautiful person. I ask if he has any advice for students reading this.

“This University experience is only going to come around once. Hold onto the present. As a student, anything is possible. Stay positive, and immerse yourself in every possible experience and take every single opportunity,” Ronny tells me.

Ronny’s show premiers on The ABC on the 7th of June at 9pm. It is a show for any student looking to relate to the difficult moments during university life, all the while keeping eyes set on the horizon, searching for the next laugh.

You can listen to the podcast of this interview by searching, ‘The Ferg Neal Show,’ on iTunes.

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