"Underachiever": Parental Judgement Day

Jinx Yeo is a Singaporean comedian here in Adelaide Fringe for the first time to give us a taste of his award-winning stand-up – if his promo material is to be believed, he is the first Singaporean comedian to visit Fringe here ever.

Perhaps it's because of this that his material goes so broad. I can understand this might have a lot to do with being in unfamiliar territory, and having no idea what would land and what would flop with Adelaide audiences. But by 'broad' I mean:

  • A lot of "Battle of the Sexes" material, which trades on the idea that by wearing makeup and heels women are engaging in a hypocritical form of deception.
  • Weirdly self-deprecating jokes, steeped in racist (and questionable) stereotypes about the relative sizes of Asian and African penises.
  • Multiple jokes trading on the notion of a Sexual Panic regarding trans women, capped off with a pretty ugly comparison to tofu.

At best this stuff is tired and obvious; at worst, cheap and mean-spirited. And if a lot of these jokes got a warm response, none of them exactly killed: Yeo can't even hide behind the defence that he delivers what the audience demands.

This is not to say Yeo didn't surprise me. There were plenty of savvy observations, like how gross it is that the word we have for a fetish for Asian women is also the name of a disease. And often, when he was doing something uncomfortable, he would be able to turn the joke around at the end and turn it into something else. This is how a joke about Chinese characters became one about how Asian people have 'small eyes' and then turned into a crack about the white people who get them tattooed.

Yeo is a competent comedian, easily able to command the audience's attention for the full hour, and the material about his family life is amusing and insightful. But the extent to which he trades in stereotypes robs his jokes of their punch and leaves a bitter taste.

★★