Jennifer Wong loves food. Like, really loves it. She loves it so much that she’s written a Comedy Festival show about it. Don’t let the title of the show confuse you – Living in the Pasta actually doesn’t have a lot of pasta jokes. Rather, it is a meandering road through her life and her experiences with food, especially “weird” ethnic foods that are now trendy (chia seeds, goji berries and Peking duck).
Informed by her childhood, her depression and her comfort eating, Wong offers some sharp, witty insights into what food means to her. Her experiences are unlikely to be universal, at least with people who aren’t Chinese (the majority of the packed Forum Theatre Ladies Lounge), but it’s accessible and non-confrontational, packaging her personal experiences with thoughtful cultural observations – and of course, a bit of humour. She talks about how foods that she would have been teased for in the 80s are now cool – dumplings, yum cha, whole ducks – and how it’s great (but also incredibly annoying).
Wong is a delight. She’s excellent at involving the audience, even if they’re a little shy to start with, and her amiable, awkward manner seems to be universally endearing – the audience is constantly bursting into laughter. She apologises for bad jokes and jokes that fall flat, occasionally drifting off tangent, but never coming across as unprepared or lost.
Living in the Pasta is stuffed with incredibly clever wordplay – some bilingual, some off-the-cuff, and some incredibly niche, but all hilarious. It tackles a few more serious issues, such as depression and racism, but the comedian doesn’t dwell on them, opting to keep the show light instead. What’s up with fancy food names these days? Why are there so many kinds of pizza? What’s the deal with superfoods? It’s smart, it’s quick, it’s fun.
Really, the only thing I could possibly want from this show? More puns about pasta.
Living in the Pasta is at the Forum Theatre until 19th April. Tickets start from $15 – get them online or at the door.