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Fringe Review: Ken Cheng: Best Dad Ever @ Bedlam Theatre


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Ken Cheng, 2017 Dave Joke of the Fringe winner, returns to the Fringe for another season of stand-up.

Cheng is a lovable geek and intelligent comedian, providing unique jokes to audiences who are on the verge of being over-showed at Edinburgh’s Fringe. His carefully constructed stories and amusing worldviews stand out amidst an abundance of Trump and Brexit jokes in which many other Fringe shows are drowning.

Walking in to Bedlam’s dark and cosy theatre to the soundtrack of Randy Newman’s “You’ve got a friend in me”, it is impossible not to smile. The joyous soundtrack is in stark contrast to the gothic church in which this show takes place. The comically simple set only adds to the peculiar atmosphere – a single stand upon which a chocolate bar and a toy lamb perched.

The audience was buzzing with excitement. Throughout the room, most audience members discussed the various recommendations they had received from friends for the show, and Cheng’s signature joke that won him Joke of the Fringe last year.

Ken Cheng did not disappoint. Confident in his self-proclaimed awkwardness, he weaved serious family dramas, and the casual racism he has experienced, into stories which always ended up with the audience bubbling with laughter. He frequently travelled down a serious path before looping back to hilarity.

Even when Cheng’s microphone began to falter, he took the technical fault in his stride and laughed alongside the audience as it was fixed, turning it into an additional joke.

Cheng takes the audience on a journey of childhood nostalgia, relatable student experiences, and complex family relations, summarising his own journey through life and the speedbumps which have accompanied.

One moment which stands out is Cheng’s comical use of excel spreadsheets to explain some of life’s peculiarities (it was particularly entertaining that the word “excel” resulted in a cheer from the audience – clearly fellow spreadsheet fans).

Cheng’s performance (and his questionable Yorkshire accent) are not to be missed at this year’s festival.

Ken Cheng: Best Dad Ever is at Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49) at 15.30, August 10-14, 16-26. For more information and tickets click here.

This article is part of our coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Click here to read other articles written by our contributors. 
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