Comedian Sheng Wang and the Surreality of Everyday Mundane Experiences

Sheng Wang is a Taiwanese Texan comedian currently living in New York. We recently caught up with him at Go!Style, an Asian American performance event in the Bay Area which TaiwaneseAmerican.org helped sponsor.

When Sheng gets on stage, he just looks like your average friendly Taiwanese guy with an unassuming stage presence. But as he walks around, awesome things start spewing from his mouth as he makes hilarious commentary out of his ordinary experiences. Curious, we asked him a few questions to learn more about who he is and what he does.

Anna: For people who have never seen you perform, how would you describe your comedy?

Sheng: I try to keep a ratio of silliness to thought in my humor.  I believe in intelligent fart jokes and the surreality of everyday mundane experiences.  It’s a fun time sprinkled with honesty.  My performance is not as high energy as my writing is sharp, but I use my sincerity to keep the audience engaged.

Anna: I like that. An honest assesment of your work. Where do you get your material?

Sheng: Like most comedians and other writers, I keep a pen and pad in my pockets at all times.  Any semblance of humor or interest that arises in my interactions with the world, I’ll jot down and see if I can translate it into something funny on stage.  Much of it revolves around food because that’s been a pretty serious passion in my life.

Anna: How did you first discover your talent for comedy?

Sheng: When I went to summer camp in my youth, we’d have to do sketches typically on the last day for our parents.  I wasn’t a good writer, but I learned that I could easily create awkward moments on stage that usually received some chuckles.

Anna: Who are your inspirations and role models?

Sheng: My original inspiration to start standup comedy was Mitch Hedberg.  He showed me that you could do humor that was completely personal and unique and still appeal to a mass audience.  He was an excellent writer and his sense of humor spoke to me immediately.  There’s a number of great standup comedians working today that I really respect including Maria Bamford, Dave Attell, and Zach Galafianakis.  They all have very different styles, but they all produce their own brand of brilliant humor.

Anna: What kinds of audiences turn out at your shows?

Sheng: It’s usually a pretty mixed bag, which is how I prefer it to be.  I like audiences that can think for themselves and don’t take everything I say too seriously.  Ultimately, I’m telling jokes!

Anna: What do your parents think? Do they ever come to watch you perform?

Sheng: My parents don’t give me too much grief, for which I’m very grateful.  It doesn’t hurt that my other siblings have stable jobs and relationships.  My parents don’t normally come out to shows, but my mom has seen me bomb pretty badly in front of a hundred middle aged Asian American doctors.

Anna: Sounds like a unique experience. Glad you survived. So if you weren’t a comedian, what would you be?

Sheng: If I didn’t pursue comedy, I’d probably be struggling as a photographer or a cook.

Anna: Struggling photographer! I can relate. What are you working on these days?

Sheng: Honestly…these days I’m working on waking up at a decent hour, putting in a reasonable amount of work daily, and taking my career seriously.  Just being disciplined and focused on writing.  Part of the difficulty in following a dream in the arts is creating structure for yourself and staying humble and hungry as you make progress.  I’m also exploring ways to develop an act where I can integrate my interest in photography with my standup.  It’s slowly coming together.

Anna: Well we’re eagerly awaiting that act and wishing you all the best as you progress in your career!

To learn more, check out Sheng Wang at his Myspace page.

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