Review: ‘Philly Philly Wang Wang’ is like going to a school where silliness is the curriculum

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Review: ‘Philly Philly Wang Wang’ is like going to a school where silliness is the curriculum


Phil Wang is a bespectacled literary expert. With an astute sense of politics, race, and sometimes even moral philosophy, you’d be hard-pressed to find another comic that submits an audience to their atrocious but ingenious analogies as well as he does.

The ‘half-English half-Malaysian full peacock’ spins his wisdom and stories smoother than a Mercedes on cruise control, all of which exacts to unstoppable laughter. From his hyper-efficient farts that disable Wi-Fi signals to observations on modern-day altruism and capitalism, it’s clear that he possesses infinitely more material than he lets on, but lack of time is the poisoned chalice.

“Comedy is a toilet for your thoughts – you shit it out and re-enter the world as a functioning member of society,” he explains. By his logic, Wang earns the title of a dysfunctional crap palace and he is the ultimate janitor. As the ex-president of Cambridge’s Footlights drama club on top of having an engineering degree, Wang’s material is meticulous and potent, but the comic’s suave, polished presentation exudes an aura of wizardry that’s hard to pin down to a science – arrogance, perhaps. But Wang reckons a little bit of pompous goes a long way. That’s not to say he takes his craft lightly.

“At the end of the day comedy is so much an art. It’s also a way to understand humanity.” It doesn’t hurt that Wang’s glossy delivery is boosted by huge tonal variations in his voice, almost as if possessing a mental chorus sheet.

Citing comedians like Stewart Lee or Dave Chappelle as his muses, it’s clear Wang prides himself on honesty and being as authentic as he possibly can, without being abusive or crossing a line of sorts. To be fair, he still embraces moral ambiguity in his bits. It’s part of taking you on his rollercoaster of, “Oh shit, that’s hilarious but should we be laughing?”.

On one occasion, he questions the sanity of the creators of Popeye, slowly but surely dissecting each character into caricatures of everyday quagmires; an addiction to greens, a morally dubious vigilante, and misogynistic themes that are rife within.

In another, he talks about delivering a bottle of champagne to an acquaintance across a crowded restaurant whilst donning a bunny onesie – the epitome of opulence. Wang is as much overflowing with nuggets of unconventional wisdom as he is a cheeky, whimsical Eurasian assessing which half of his name will serve him better in the coming decades (he reckons it’s Wang, citing rapid Chinese progression but also likening the UK today to a floating garbage can).

Wang comes off as that performer who not only wants you to bring home a chuckle or two, but seeks to impart a slice of his worldview you otherwise would’ve missed. He’s quick to point out that on a scale of bad to good human behaviours – he’s probably just ‘about decent’ though, but then again aren’t we all? “We’d like to think we’re more than decent, but our ethics mostly seek to benefit us financially,” he says.

He can’t wait for gender equality, because he wants to see if more people other than men will commit murders. Audiences love a comic that refers to themselves in third person, but maybe that’s just ’cause the man can’t stand himself too. Whether he came to educate or entertain, Wang is a man at the height of his powers that’s only getting better as the world gets shittier.

Highlight: ‘Cork in the balls’ as potential male contraception, and its ineffectiveness as a euphemism for doing away with the condom. “Babe, I’d LOVE a cork in my balls!”

Lowlight: Once sat on a feline friend, realised it, but didn’t get up immediately.

Crowd favourite: Anytime the quipster refers to himself in third person. “This Wang’s a wilting!”