Aaron Chen: The Infinite Faces of Chenny Baby // Enmore Theatre // 11/05/17

It’s Funny

There’s an awkward humour to The Infinite Faces of Chenny Baby, and it’s incredibly effective. With offsider Jon Lo, Aaron Chen deconstructs stand-up like a contestant on MasterChef – cutting through traditional comedy shtick with his atypical approach.

The show starts with a multimedia presentation, led by Lo, forming the introduction to the entrance of Chen. It is painfully funny. A cold open so adept at warming up the crowd it could be on TV. In this moment, you know you’re going to have a good night.

Coming off a hugely successful run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival where he was named Best Newcomer, Aaron Chen has certainly arrived on the comedy scene. His style is offbeat and his timing is deliberate in its uncertainty. On several occasions, it takes a second for the audience to comprehend what has happened, but when they catch on, the response is raucous.

Alongside Jon Lo, he has the makings of the next big comedy star. Aaron Chen is both confident and meek in his approach. His jokes will make you laugh out loud and make you think. The stage design is both first-rate and crudely put together. He has the comic timing of a seasoned professional and the inelegant witticisms of a punter at an open mic night. And it all works. So. Damned. Well.

Chen muses on whether white people food is better than we realise, has a disappointing realisation about his favourite mug, and questions the role his Japanese girlfriend could have in giving his father closure.

There is so much in the show to unpack, one wonders how much of it is planned. When he talks to the audience Chen turns the show on its head by heckling unsuspecting members. It’s not insult comedy though, it’s more about creating spontaneous leaping-off points for his next gag, and the crowd willingly goes along with it. Even the few sight gags that exist in the show are side-splitting.

From stories about his childhood to jokes about the party zone around Sydney’s Town Hall, Chen’s show is a one-way trip to Laughsville, to the point where he even finds humour in what isn’t being said. The Infinite Faces of Chenny Baby is a must-see show, that is, if it hasn’t already sold out.

 – Dean Cool