OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
While Avi and Constantine get ready for the final round, it's time for us to welcome our next special guest. He's a correspondent on "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah" and starred in the biggest romantic comedy of the decade, "Crazy Rich Asians." Please welcome Ronny Chieng.
RONNY CHIENG: Thank you so much, everybody.
EISENBERG: Welcome to ASK ME ANOTHER.
CHIENG: Thank you.
EISENBERG: So, Ronny, you started comedy as an undergrad law student in Australia.
EISENBERG: You were living in Melbourne.
CHIENG: Yeah, so I'm right in your demographic. Honestly, this is...
CHIENG: Melbourne is the Brooklyn of Australia. I'm telling you.
EISENBERG: Yes - I actually - I remember the - one of the things that really came from Melbourne, I feel, to Brooklyn is the flat white coffee.
CHIENG: Flat white coffee.
EISENBERG: That's a great thing.
CHIENG: Yeah, well, Australian coffee.
EISENBERG: I love that.
CHIENG: For some reason, Australia - the best at coffee.
EISENBERG: They're really good.
CHIENG: It's a whole subculture of obnoxious people, yeah.
EISENBERG: So you're planning on being a lawyer, but you start doing stand-up comedy.
CHIENG: Yeah, sure. Yeah.
EISENBERG: What was the Melbourne comedy scene like?
CHIENG: Very highbrow. It's not relaxed like in America. America - comedy's very relaxed, right? We come out. You go to, like, a venue with a low ceiling.
CHIENG: Someone does, like, 10 minutes.
CHIENG: Someone else does 20. The last comes on, does 50 minutes.
CHIENG: Some jokes we laugh at. Some jokes we don't laugh at. And hopefully, overall, we win. We have a good time. Then we get the hell out of there. In Australia, it's every comic does one hour - no food, no drinks, no opening act. It's just you.
CHIENG: It creates good stuff, but sometimes, you know, it takes comedy too seriously. It's like, comedy - it's fun. It's meant to spread joy. And we don't always get it right, but, you know, it's a double-edged sword.
EISENBERG: And obviously, we know you from "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah." And we know you to talk a lot about current events and politics. But when you started off doing stand-up, were you leaning into any politics?
CHIENG: No, I avoided politics - avoided it.
EISENBERG: On purpose.
CHIENG: Yeah, yeah. At that time, I felt like there were smarter people than me who were talking about it. I didn't want to, like, inject myself into this thing that, you know...
EISENBERG: So in Australia, you were like oh, there's smarter people than me talking about this, but then you come to America and you're like, no, I'm the smartest person.
CHIENG: Basically, yeah.
EISENBERG: Your first movie role turned out to be a good role. You played Eddie Cheng in "Crazy Rich Asians."
CHIENG: Yeah, yeah. Way to go.
CHIENG: Yeah, way to go. This is for the rich people - yeah, finally.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) Your character Eddie Cheng was not a very likeable character.
EISENBERG: Was that fun to play?
CHIENG: Well, my mom liked him, but yeah, sure - OK.
CHIENG: But yeah - very fun to play. Yeah, I knew that character very well. I grew up with people like that...
EISENBERG: I see.
CHIENG: ...A Type A personality - law-school people. So it wasn't hard to just channel. And I'm, like, impersonating people I know, so yeah.
EISENBERG: Yeah, and so - and then, of course, you know, the movie does amazing.
CHIENG: Yeah, very...
EISENBERG: Did you get a lot of people reaching out to you?
CHIENG: It's cool because it was a Singapore story. And so I grew up in Singapore. My parents lived in Singapore. And so when there was a Singapore story happening, I'm like, how often do Singapore stories blow up outside of Singapore? When it came out, I'm like, yeah, you know, I felt very strongly that I really wanted to be a part of it because, you know, there's not a lot of Singaporean Malaysians in America, in showbusiness. And I thought it was a story worth telling. And I thought I could do it. That's the most important thing. It wasn't like, shove me in. I was like, no, I know these characters. I know this world. I know I can tell this story, so...
CHIENG: ...Very lucky to be part of it.
EISENBERG: Yeah, that's great - fantastic. All right, Ronny, are you ready for an ASK ME ANOTHER challenge?
CHIENG: Yeah, sure.
EISENBERG: OK, so before the show, you told us that one of your hobbies is building Nintendo game emulators.
EISENBERG: Which, if you don't know, is basically homemade video game consoles. Are you comfortable, by the way, with Nintendo of America knowing this information? Because they are huge listeners of our show.
CHIENG: Oh. Yeah. I build them, but I don't use them to play games. Am I right?
CHIENG: I build them, and I destroy them immediately.
EISENBERG: So your game is called Nintendo or Nintend-no (ph).
CHIENG: Oh, I love it.
EISENBERG: I'll describe a game for the original Nintendo Entertainment System, or the NES. You tell me if it's real or something we just made up.
CHIENG: Great. I love it.
EISENBERG: OK. Here we go.
CHIENG: I was scared, but now I'm not - yeah.
EISENBERG: "Princess Tomato In The Salad Kingdom" - you play as Sir Cucumber on a mission to rescue Princess Tomato, who has been kidnapped by Minister Pumpkin. Along the way, you befriend a persimmon - real or fake?
CHIENG: Great try - that's fake. That's a great try, though.
EISENBERG: Thanks. It's real.
CHIENG: I don't believe that.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) Cupcake Heads - the game takes place in a baker's nightmare as he protects his customers from zombie cupcakes out for revenge.
CHIENG: Come on. Nah, that's not real. That can't be real.
EISENBERG: That one's not real.
CHIENG: Yeah, yeah, there we go.
EISENBERG: That's fake. That's fake.
CHIENG: But you got me. You got the mind games going.
EISENBERG: Ronny, now we're actually playing a game, aren't we?
CHIENG: I know, yeah.
EISENBERG: "Super Mario Sweater," only released in Japan - Mario is featured in this game about making sweaters. The game was designed by a sewing machine company - real or fake?
CHIENG: I'm going with it's real.
EISENBERG: All right, that was a good choice.
CHIENG: Yeah, that's right.
EISENBERG: It is real.
CHIENG: Yeah, that right. Yeah.
EISENBERG: Yeah, it was released in 1986. And players could actually save their design that they made of their sweater, mail it to the game publisher. And for a small fee, they would get the sweater mailed to them.
CHIENG: That's a 2018 idea.
EISENBERG: That's such a good idea.
CHIENG: They got to make that now.
EISENBERG: I know.
CHIENG: Yeah, someone out there, we just made you like a hundred million dollars, right there, yeah.
EISENBERG: Oh, this is your final one. "Hatris" - it's like "Tetris" but with hats - "Hatris."
CHIENG: What year was it?
CHIENG: Maybe it's a strategic error to let you into my thinking process.
CHIENG: You know what? It's so dumb, it has to be real. That's the only way you would put it in here. It's so dumb, and I've played dumber games, by the way.
CHIENG: So yeah, I'm going "Hatris" - real.
EISENBERG: It is real, yes.
EISENBERG: That was so fun. Congratulations. You did great.
CHIENG: Thank you so much. Thank you.
EISENBERG: Ronny Chieng is on the "Daily Show With Trevor Noah." Give it up for Ronny Chieng, everybody.
CHIENG: Thank you. Yay. We did it. We did it.
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