Day 24: Sheng Wang

Day 24. I’m passing along one stand up set each day this month and discussing why I like it. Today’s is a 2013 Sheng Wang set on Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. Here’s why I’m laughing so hard at this set:

• HEAVY TWIST. In Sheng’s final bit, he spends half a minute just detailing this DEA story. By giving us the horrific details for so long, he builds up the tension. Then, at its peak, he points out an observation I’d overlook. The result is a hilarious release of tension. I’m laughing simultaneously because I didn’t catch it and because the emotional valence swung so abruptly from heavy to light.

• THE TAGS. Sheng basically has 4 bits in this set (Safety, Rats, Russia, Feces), and after he establishes the premise of each bit, he gives a barrage of punchlines, almost every sentence ending in a laugh. For example, in Russia, he uses dialogue (like Russell Peters, Day 12). In Feces, he uses theoretical act outs (like Joe List, Day 9). In these ways, he’s able to extend the bits and convert a single funny idea into a storm of laughter. (For tags, see also: Jim Gaffigan, Day 13.)

• THE SILLY SERIOUS. Sheng shows politicians (serious characters) having a childish fight (a silly setting). This is a corollary to when Aparna Nancherla (Day 7) placed babies (silly characters) at a women’s march (a serious setting). The juxtaposition of serious and silly is unexpected, so Sheng is able to paint a funny picture by taking serious politicians and turning them into silly kids. Not only does this tickle my brain and get me laughing, in the process, Sheng is able to effectively satirize the petty way world leaders sometimes act.

For more Sheng Wang stand up, check out his half hour special on Comedy Central and follow on IG: @shengwangtime