Words by Helen Knott
Comedian Phil Wang brings his fourth stand-up show, Kinabalu, to Birmingham’s Glee Club on Sunday 11th March.
Doors open at the Glee Club from 7pm to 7:30pm, with the show scheduled to start at 8pm. Minimum age of entry is 14, with tickets are priced at £12 plus booking fee. For direct show information, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.
At the time of writing, Phil Wang is in the midst of an unlikely controversy. Apparently, in a yet-to-be-aired edition of the BBC’s TV favourite Room 101, Wang nominates Hollywood heartthrob Tom Hiddleston to be sent to the infamous room – the place of pet hates. A pretty solid choice you might think, but Hiddleston’s fans (the ‘Hiddlestoners’) are not amused. Wang is getting some serious stick on Twitter.
I’m sure that he doesn’t mind too much. Wang’s comedy often crosses the boundary into things it’s probably not okay to say out loud. He’s not one to beat around the bush on sensitive issues like race or sex or colonialism. Wang’s upbringing – he lived in Malaysia until he his mid-teens before moving to the UK – means that he gets away with a lot of it; he’s allowed to say that the British Empire isn’t all bad, because he has experienced life living in an arm of the British Empire firsthand.
It also means that Wang has ready-made ‘otherness’, something that many other comedians work to manufacture. His name is a perfect distillation of this: he’s half British, half Malaysian, and consequently feels like he doesn’t completely fit in anywhere. This is reflected in his material, and means that Wang can tell us plenty of insightful things about British attitudes to race from an outsider’s point of view.
Phil Wang will be performing his fourth solo show, Kinabalu, which has been solidly picking up four star reviews since it debuted at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe. This performance is part of an extended UK tour, which began at the end of 2017, and has featured a number of sold out shows. This backs-up Wang’s burgeoning TV career, including appearances on Have I Got News for You, Live at the Apollo, and Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, hosted by Jimmy Carr, in which beat fellow comedian Ed Gamble.
If it seems like Wang’s career is going pretty well for someone still in their mid-twenties, it should come as no surprise when you look back at his teenage years. He was performing stand-up sets before university and actively targeted a place at Cambridge so that he could be a member of the famous theatrical society Cambridge Footlights (previous members include Douglas Adams, Stephen Fry, Richard Ayoade and John Oliver). Alongside a degree in Engineering, Wang became president of Footlights and won the Chortle Student Comedian of the Year award. This is clearly a focused and ambitious man.
So far, that ambition, coupled with his unique point of view on British and East Asian culture, are making for a winning combination. Let’s just hope that the Hiddlestoners don’t get him.
Phil Wang – Live at the Apollo
Phil Wang brings his Kinabalu stand up show to the Glee Club (B’ham) on Sunday 11th March. For direct show information, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit www.glee.co.uk/performer/phil-wang
For more on Phil Wang, visit www.philwang.co.uk
For more from the Glee Club venues, including further event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.glee.co.uk