Ken Cheng is a Cambridge University dropout who aspired to become a professional poker player, and became a comedian instead. The title of his stand up show this Fringe is Ken Cheng: Chinese Comedian, and it does exactly what it says on the tin.
Cheng is a very different type of comic. His humour is very clever – not just in the witty sense of the word, but in the mathematical, analytical and well-calculated sense. Some might go so far as to say he stands in the grey area of what comedy is.
His unique style of delivery might not be what is commonly found on the Fringe stage – involving graphs, charts and slideshows – but it gives his show a rare twist. However, this gimmick slowly turns dry before the show has even found its feet.
The character Cheng presents on stage comes across as awkward and lacks the charisma needed to hold an audience. Cheng’s ability to stay in character is lost when audience interruption occurs; it is in these moments of confusion, when he moves away from his script, that his true humour shines through, allowing the audience to warm up to him once more.
Even though the response from the audience is few and far between, Cheng manages to fight those moments in the silence and gives the audience what they paid for.
Nevertheless, if you are looking for a show in which you can relax, drink and genuinely laugh now and then Ken Cheng: Chinese Comedian makes for a good start to a day out at the Fringe.
Words: Miriam Larrainzar
Ken Cheng: Chinese Comedian, Pleasance Courtyard, Aug 2-27 (not 16), 4.45pm