Standup comedy has become an avenue for people to voice their opinions without causing maximum offense. In addition to poking fun at mundane reality, it also provides a space for discussion and conversation about topics that would not be so easily spoken about otherwise. Politics and societal norms are something that people are often scared to raise a voice against, fearing strong opposition or dire reactions. But standup comedy often becomes a tool to deal with such topics. In his latest standup comedy special, “Dr Jason Leong: Ride with Caution,” a Malaysian doctor-turned-standup comic Dr. Jason Leong touches upon political and societal topics peppered with a few incidents from his personal life. In his set, there is dark humor and a few awkward revelations, but it also gives a sense of relatability to most of the audience.
The show is an hour and five minutes long, and it covers three main topics: cycling, being a doctor turned standup comic and the pandemic. Throughout the sixty-five minutes of the show, there are ebbs and flows to his narrative, peppered with callbacks and repetitions. The show was filmed in Singapore, and Dr. Leong left no room for suspicion in showing his love for the Singaporean currency. Singapore is infamous for being an expensive city to live in, and doing a show in that city means any artist could earn a good sum overnight. Dr. Leong hails from Malaysia, whose currency is weaker than the Singapore dollar. He does not shy away from admitting that earning Singaporean dollars is his favorite thing about the city.
He begins his set by poking fun at the political scenario in Malaysia and how he finds certain developmental ideas a little unsettling. He does not mince his words at showing his disdain towards certain economic decisions by the government either.
Cycling as a sport has been something that most of us have wanted to take up, either out of the sheer need to exercise or even out of peer pressure. He presents the audience with a bunch of funny incidents, including one stunning revelation he came face to face with: that the cyclists don’t wear anything beneath their cycling shorts! This joke became a frequent callback throughout his set as it progressed. He used it to soften the blow when jumping to a new incident.
Dr. Leong also mentions how the pandemic went for him. The pandemic was a difficult time for all of us. On the one hand, it brought our regular lives to a staggering halt, but it also opened avenues for exploring, working, and connecting virtually more than ever. Standup comedy also shifted to video conferences, and it was a whole new experience in itself.
His wife is also a doctor—an anesthetist—and she was one of the many doctors working on the front during the pandemic. He also mentioned how the situations at home sometimes turned funny. He pointed to an incident in particular where his infant daughter was crying, but he was busy doing research for his show, and his wife was doing research for a thesis. Both of them called for each other to help the baby out, but finally, his wife came and consoled the baby. When she came and confronted him, Dr. Leong mentioned that his computer screen showed his search about cyclists and whether they wear anything beneath their shorts. The way Dr. Leong narrated the incident pokes a funny jab but also paints a realistic picture of two contrasting jobs which have their own demands.
Dr. Jason Leong borrows incidents from his daily life and presents a relatable picture, even if some incidents are exaggerated for comic effect. He also points out that every human has someone they hate, and we might sometimes wish bad things upon them. He also had one person whom he hated and wished ill for. In doing so, he not only hints that humans are almost the same everywhere, but he also manages to generalize the feeling that every human goes through at least once in their lifetime. He also touches upon a funny incident with his then-fellow Malay Muslim colleague and how he accidentally fed him pork during lunch.
If one was to pinpoint something which sets Dr. Leong apart from the others, it is his delivery and repetition. He repeats some set phrases and incidents over and over again, which seem funny at first, but when they go on and on for a while, they do not elicit any laughter. He delivers his entire set in English, and there are instances when there is dark humor as well. When he spoke about having kids and about his Malay Muslim colleague, whom he accidentally fed pork, there were avenues for the audience to take offense at his commentary as well. Religion and children are sensitive topics. While it passed off as nothing serious in Dr. Leong’s set, it could cause repercussions otherwise. That is what comedy is all about. There are jokes to make one feel light after a hectic day, but it also sets the floor for discussions on serious topics. Sure, there will be something that is uncomfortable to hear – it is something that is often pushed under the rug by the people – but it needs to be addressed sooner or later. Dr. Jason Leong’s set was not extraordinary, but neither was it commonplace. It was something we all might have experienced once in our lifetimes, and Dr. Jason just reminded us of that. One could very well play it in the background, and you won’t miss anything pivotal from the set. It won’t hurt to give this set a chance if you’re looking for an alternative.