Malaysia has made a name for itself with some of the most popular comedians in the world hailing from our beloved tanah air. We’ve got Ronny Chieng, a local JBian who has appeared in comedy shows like “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”, done two Netflix specials and has even made an appearance in “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”. Then we’ve got the hilarious Sabahan Phil Wang who continues to be one of the funniest Asian comics out there today with a huge following in the UK. And alas, there’s the one and only Nigel Ng, better known as Uncle Roger. An absolute online sensation with over 7 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, a popular figure in both the comedy and culinary world! Continuing our legacy of laughs is Dr. Jason Leong who returns to Netflix with his second comedy special “Dr. Jason Leong: Ride With Caution”.
The former medical practitioner-turned-comedian made waves with his first special “Dr. Jason Leong: Hashtag Blessed”, showing the world his own distinctive style of humour. Does the doctor have more tricks up his sleeves? Let’s find out!
The cornerstone of Leong’s entire comedic style, at least based on his recent shows, is observational humour. He’ll pick up on the everyday, mundane minutiae of life and blow it out of proportion for a good laugh. One particularly memorable joke was when he regaled the audience on how he noticed that cyclists tend to wear incredibly tight shirts and pants…with no underwear. Then, he makes quick work of all the chuckle-worthy nastiness of the scene and its implications.
Unfortunately, this bit is also memorable because of how long-winded it was, which is a pattern in his special. Look, we’re not immune to a good bit of gross-out humour but by the time he followed through with an anecdote building on the bit, we were already rolling our eyes. That being said, the Malaysian and Singaporean audience took great delight in his vivid description so there’s definitely a market there. This tendency to milk a bit longer than needed can prove grating at times. Another example of this was the bit when he juxtaposes the absurdity of him comparing the ups and downs of his time as an online comedian during the COVID-19 pandemic with that of his first-responder wife. We get it, the disparity is clear. Please move on.
While the runtime of some of his bits is questionable, one thing Leong knows well is his audience: Malaysians and Singaporeans. He plays them like a fiddle and we won’t lie, he got a big laugh out of us with that Selangor water cut and flood joke. He also does the usual schtick of talking about how Singaporeans are different from Malaysians in terms of behaviour, food and culture. Nothing revolutionary but still quite relatable.
Now, some Malaysians are infamously known for having thin skin when it comes to commentary on the political situation of the country, let alone poking fun at it. Some local comedians like Douglas Lim, however, have managed to ride the fine line between scathing critique and good-natured ribbing. If you haven’t checked out his “110 Flavours” video, you definitely should! All our GE-14 peeps will get a kick out of it! With the political instability of two government changes during the pandemic era in Malaysia, how does Mr Leong tackle these realities? The long and short: he doesn’t. He makes the occasional, general jab at the banal inefficacy of Malaysian public services but he never goes for the jugular. Which is disappointing for us as Malaysians, but not unexpected.
Where Leong lacks in terms of substance, he does manage to make up with delivery. Just as fans of comedians like Uncle Roger and Bill Burr instantly recognise their voices and personalities, Leong is no different. Leong’s short-fused, apek-esque delivery is a unique cross between Jerry Seinfeld’s perpetually puzzled squawks and the annoyed grunts of your uncle down the street. Malaysians and Singaporeans will no doubt feel right at home with him. After all, it does complement a good number of his jokes and punchlines that rely on the laundry list of Asian stereotypes from the deficit (or kiasu) mindset to the competitive parenting trope. Mileage will depend on the viewer. For us, it was a mixed bag.
Then, of course, there are the obligatory COVID-19 jokes that every comedian now seems to have to capitalise on. To be fair, Leong goes a gutsier approach with them, leaning into the darker side of things with relatively strong punchlines. It certainly helps that the man has a solid medical background so when he weighs on these issues, they feel like they come from a more organic place. That joke about people asking whether the mRNA vaccines would alter their DNA was so relatable! We all know that one uncle or aunty who keeps sharing mad conspiracy theories about vaccines online.
One small pet peeve some viewers may have is the way Leong uses frequently swear words or frankly antiquated gay jokes for easy laughs. Look, we’re no prudes when it comes to comedy but we believe that vulgarity in comedy works best when it is layered and unexpected. Tom Segura and Louis C.K. are masters in the way they use potty humour and shock value as a landmine that we trip up on rather than a point-blank shot to the face. Leong’s application of it is at best middling and at worst juvenile. We’re not expecting his comedy special to be on the same level of complexity as George Carlin or for him to be on sixteen layers of meta-irony like the boys from Chapo Trap House but our guy can clearly do better.
Netflix’s “Dr. Jason Leong: Ride With Caution” comedy special is a lot like nasi lemak. For local Malaysians and kindred Singaporeans, it’s a familiar delight you can rely on if you’re looking for something quick and easy.
Amidst the seemingly endless ocean of Netflix comedy specials out there though, more seasoned viewers may find this hard to swallow. If you’re stuck in traffic and are looking to kill an hour with some innocuous fun, then we’d recommend leaving it on during your commute. For those interested, you can catch “Dr. Jason Leong: Ride With Caution” on Netflix today!
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Netflix's "Dr. Jason Leong: Ride With Caution" Review
Netflix's "Dr. Jason Leong: Ride With Caution" comedy special is a lot like nasi lemak. For local Malaysians and kindred Singaporeans, it's a familiar delight you can rely on if you're looking for something quick and easy. Amidst the seemingly endless ocean of Netflix comedy specials out there though, more seasoned viewers may find this hard to swallow.
- Netflix's "Dr. Jason Leong: Ride With Caution" Review