Ronny Chieng Destroys the World
Ronny Chieng does it all. The Malaysia-born, Singapore-raised law student-turned-actor-comedian has also been a senior correspondent for Trevor Noah’s Daily Show, to which he brings a strong mix of comedy and politics. “I think it’s challenging, definitely a skill set, to be able to tell jokes and have meaning behind the jokes, because I think you are trying to make people laugh, but also say something important. Trying to do any of those individually is pretty hard – but especially trying to do both at the same time,” he shares. “We are a comedy show first, so that’s our first allegiance.”
The Daily Show is not the only place where Chieng showcases his comedy chops. In 2019, he released a Netflix stand-up comedy special Asian Comedian Destroys America! – a satirical title he chose to demonstrate that he made audiences laugh. As for his latest projects, in addition to two more specials and a travel special featuring the nation’s Chinatowns (all on Netflix), he discusses his long-postponed Hope You Get Rich tour. “Performing live stand-up is my primary job, my primary passion. I love doing it. I missed it over the last year,” he says.
Additionally, his acting has given him the opportunity to bring to life different characters. For instance, Chieng has been cast as a doctor in Doogie Kameāloha, M.D., a female-led remake of the popular ABC series Doogie Howser, M.D., which he watched as a kid. “I’ve seen a lot of doctors on TV, so it’s fun to try my hand at it,” he notes.
Furthermore, here is another exciting milestone: Chieng has been part of the Marvel Universe, as he’s played Jon Jon in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. “It was a super-fun movie to work on. It’s an important movie right now,” he adds. “It’s fun to see, for me, personally, an Asian-guy superhero in that world. It will show Asian people in a way, which I don’t think has been shown enough in the world.”
When asked about the importance of the Marvel movie, he mentions the recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and violence against the Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, which has urged us that it’s time to take action against the hateful rhetoric and injustices brought upon the community – Chieng encourages us to “support organizations that are helping people directly. As an example, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) provides legal service to underprivileged people who don’t have the resources necessary to fight legal battles.” As he continues to list more outlets available, he points out the big role we can play in the community. “I think the way to help is to get involved in your local community. There are a lot of people that want to help, as well, so you’re not alone. Whether it’s donating time, money, helping out digitally, helping the operations, or even telling other people about them, it’s the small ways we can all help, and also just calling it out when you see it,” he affirms.
Writer: Savannah Dial
Photographer: Tracy Wright Corvo
Stylist: Taylor Kondo
Men’s Grooming: Mahealani Diego
Videographer: Dorys Foltin
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Special thanks to EPK Media (@myepk & @epkmedia - epkmedia.com)