Skip to content


It's Not Easy Being Yellow
Published on Tuesday, 08 May 2012

2 stars

Laughing Horse @ The Hobgoblin (venue website)
5-7, 17, 24 May, 9:30pm-10:30pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Suitable for age 18+ only.
 World Premiere.

There’s a comedy cliché about American comics opening with a lame crack about the stereotypes of their heritage. You know the one: my dad’s X, my mom’s Y so naturally I [INSERT HILARIOUS COMEDY HERE]. Which isn’t to say you can’t do a routine based on that schtick spun out for an hour, but you need to be very careful to avoid the obvious. Sadly, half-Filipino, half-German Ria Lina’s show is full of the obvious, and never quite makes the leap to the insightful high ground it aspires to reach.

The show plants itself firmly as being about Lina’s experiences. Her flyers include pop-quiz questions about her, and we are given yet more questions when, during the show, we are asked to fill out forms about our first impression of Lina and describing her in 3 words. She then warns us that she can be edgy, before launching into the first of several songs on the ukelele. Lina has a great voice, but I’m afraid I really have heard all the ukulele-based comedy songs I ever want to, and none of them are ever edgy.

But the best parts of this show demonstrate what it one day can be.  The highlight is her material about her daughter being born white and blonde, and the dilemma this pale-skinned baby presented for Lina – constantly mistaken for her own child’s nanny.  More of this interesting, genuinely original material would have transformed this show, and its inclusion shows that Lina is capable of much greater things than quirky songs about how men ejaculate too quickly during sex. Or jokes about how all Germans are Nazis.

At the end of the show, Lina brings us back to the three words that could describe her, hoping (she explains) to sum up her unique selling point as a comic. But she never offers any thoughts of her own, just shrugging that, of course, she’s unusual.

The implication is that it’s her status as a female Asian comic that makes her distinct; but I’m not sure if that’s even true, and any fresh angle her heritage gives her isn’t reflected in much of her material. It’s a shame that for someone offering a new perspective in a world of samey stand ups, Lina turned out not to have much to say.

<< Gerry Howell's Parrot Fas...   Hanover the Musical! >>


These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.