Preview: Ken Cheng: Best Dad Ever

Gemma Sheehan 15 January 2017

Ahead of his one night only performance at the ADC this Tuesday, TCS sat down with comedian Ken Cheng to talk stand-up, the Cambridge comedy scene, and Netflix specials.

Tell us a bit about the show  why the name ‘Best Dad Ever’?

We’re not giving too much away, but the idea of the show comes from when I found a Toblerone packet with the words ‘best dad ever’ written on it and it spawns from that.

You also performed a stand up routine in Cambridge at the beginning of last year  how different do you expect the experience will be this time around?

I think I’ve gone for a very different show this year, which will be quite interesting. I think last year was quite within my comfort zone – the show I decided to do didn’t have an ambitious premise, it was just segmented bits of stand up that didn’t really build towards any particular goal. This year there is one narrative, which makes it harder. It’s also a very personal show this time around, which is very different from what I do.

Has anything been more challenging than expected?

I think doing the stuff which is quite personal is very, very difficult, because you have to balance two things – you have to balance it on a micro level of it being funny and interesting, but also it has to actually tell the audience about me and I have no idea how to do that second one that well. It’s hard to know how much information they can get from these bits about who I really am. Usually comedians don’t have to worry too much about that; they just have to worry about it being funny.

Stand up obviously requires quite a different skill set to many productions – where do you get your inspiration for a completely solo show?

I guess it’s mostly from Netflix specials. There are so many on Netflix now, probably about a hundred of them, and there are some very good ones. But otherwise the great thing about stand up is that you can sort of be quite flexible with it. It could just be an hour of segmented bits or it could be a whole unified show.

You’ve obviously had quite a broad comedy experience, being a finalist in the BBC Radio New Comedy Award. What do you make of the Cambridge stand up scene?

The stand up scene is in quite a bad shape right now; there aren’t that many good gigs. I started out in Cambridge in 2010 and you could probably do two gigs a week. They were all very well attended and very well run, and over time I think they stopped being a thing. Now there’s maybe a few a term but they’re not as good as they used to be. So it’s in a pretty bad state but hopefully it is one of those things with ups and downs.

Your shows tend to draw quite an audience though don’t they?

My one last year sold out, which was nice. I guess I was around in Cambridge for quite a while so I was quite well-known. Also it helped calling it ‘Chinese comedian,’ I think just a bunch of random Chinese people showed up.

Ken Cheng: Best Dad Ever plays for one night only on Tuesday 17 January, 11pm at the ADC Theatre.