Jennifer Wong kookily stands before us with her cardboard box ‘cassette player’ beside her, in her one-woman standup show How To English Harder. Her quirky little Melbourne International Comedy Festival show pokes fun at the lucrative field of foreigners learning English, as well as us natives trying to master it. For someone who appears Chinese-Australian, ‘she speaks very good English’ — and is often told so at bus stops.
Using a corrupted Siri voice, Wong runs ‘How To Learn English’ tapes through her beatbox, jazzing up each section with real-life skits. So doing, she deconstructs touchy topics such as about class and origins. Cultural phobias about race and heritage are outed in her show, without it being too message-y. She’s too busy laughing at the silly things we humans do to get political.
She considers the foibles of learning via the internet, using makeup application as an hilarious case-in-point. Her lines are often killer-Millennial, with references to the importance of shopping (on par with child-raising) and to tapping into the ‘exam-avoidance market’, where students sneak into her show who should be studying the night before!
Wong’s style is casual, chirpy, coming at you thick and fast. Little escapes her comedic eye. She goes from morals to mushrooms, then to the new age, then Dyson-appliance lust.
It was so nice to see a confident young female chewing threw her material, poking fun at the recycled big guns of MICF, dominating the main stage and media.
Sarah W. is a dance-trained theatre lover with a flair for the bold and non-traditional performance platforms. On the street or in the box seat, she looks for quality works that push the envelope.
How To English Harder runs 11–23 April, 7.15pm (50 mins) at Ladies’ Lounge, Forum Theatre. Purchase tickets now. The venue is not accessible.