If comedy is a universal language, then Chieng’s peripatetic background gave him a good head start: Born in Malaysia and raised in New Hampshire, the Chinese standup moved to Singapore for a decade — “even though I’m Asian that was a real culture shock,” he says.
Chieng began his comedy career at university in Melbourne, Australia, where he graduated with degrees in law and commerce. “I joined a campus competition as I felt I could do comedy, and I won,” he says. “Then I started doing standup gigs in 2009 while completing my law degree, but I never told my parents. They only discovered a few years later.”
Now 30, Chieng has been honing his “observational, aggressive, absurdist” style on the international circuit, after winning the Melbourne Comedy Festival newcomer award in 2012 and several other comedy kudos.
“That led to doing the Edinburgh Festival Fringe three times, touring Australia, New Zealand, London, and Malaysia, and also opening for Dave Chappelle and Bill Burr when they toured Australia — all within four years of starting, so I felt very lucky.” He also wrote for and appeared in several Australian comedy shows, including “Problems” and “Kinne.” He made his U.S. TV debut on “The Late Late Show” in 2015, and was asked to audition for “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.” “Doing the show’s been a great experience, and it’s getting better and better every week.”
Still a diehard standup, Chieng, who has a TV comedy pilot out in Australia (“International Student”), also performs most nights in New York. “There’s not many Chinese standups out there, so I see it as a chance to offer a different point of view.” — Iain Blair