And Now Your Moment of Zen (at #AAJA16) with Ronny Chieng

By Theresa Chong, Multimedia Science/Technology Journalist 

Ronny Chieng, a correspondent for “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah,” didn’t know that he wanted to be a comedian. But when he was in law school, he knew that he could do it. Fast forward seven years later, and not only does Chieng have a regular gig on The Daily Show, he’s also co-creator and star of a TV pilot for ABC in Australia. The show, “International Student,” features his life as a law student in Australia.

During Chieng’s AAJA session, “And Now Your Moment of Zen with Ronny Chieng,” he’ll tell us what it’s like to be on the set of “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah,” and share his experiences covering this unconventional year of American politics.

To get a better understanding of who Chieng is, I recently spoke with him about his views on politics, technology and Kanye West.

Ronny-619-386Q: If you could ask Hillary Clinton one question, what would it be?

Chieng: That’s a great question. I would ask her this, but it’s more a statement than a question. My thing with Hillary is that she’s a better politician, administrator, decision maker and American political leader, than she is necessarily a public speaker. If she can just own that a little bit — which she did I think during her speech. She said something along the lines of, “Look, I’m not a great show person. I may not seem as charismatic as Bill Clinton or Obama. But, I’m a f***ing competent operator. And, I can get s*** done. And, I’ve been doing this a long time.” I don’t know how much of that resonated for the American population, but that would resonate with me more.

When they brought her down to the Benghazi hearing, they basically cross-examined her for hours. She was like iron clad. They couldn’t get her at all. She’s a great public speaker by any normal human being standards. But, by politician standards, she’s not necessarily the greatest speech giver of all time.

Sorry, so to answer your question: What question would I actually ask Hillary? I’d ask her, do you actually carry hot sauce in your purse?

If you could ask Donald Trump one question, what would it be?

Chieng: What are you doing? How is there so much cognitive dissonance with what you say? You can literally contradict yourself in the same sentence. I’d ask him, why does he think that everyone is out to get him? These are more statements than questions, because for Donald Trump, the question is, why do you feel that all criticism is unfair? That’s what I’d ask him. Is there any form of criticism that could be fair criticism to you?

Who do you think will become president, Clinton or Trump? Why?

Chieng: I’m not sure. I think Hillary will have it. As an outsider, I always saw America as a very optimistic place. And, I have to believe that as an optimistic place, they’ll go with an optimistic message. But, I mean, we’ve been wrong this whole time, so, I don’t know anymore.

In your stand-up, you detailed the “torturous” process of trying to explain to your mom, over the phone, how to delete her YouTube comments. I definitely related to this painstaking process. So, what frustrates you about technology?

Chieng:  Where do I start? I think the thing that irritates me about technology, specifically social media, is that there is a tendency for people to have a mob lynching mentality to go after people. I think it can be incredibly unfair and sometimes hypocritical for people to jump on the bandwagon of hate. I think it’s very easy for people to do that on the Internet. The Internet is very good at spreading information whether it’s correct or incorrect information. There’s a tremendous ability to amplify hate towards people, rightfully or wrongfully so.

In one of your stand-ups, you discussed the true meaning behind the lyrics of one of Kanye West’s songs. If you could write a song for Kanye West, what would it be about?
Chieng: If I could write a song for Kanye West, dude, things would be a lot different for me. Who am I to tell Kanye West what to talk about? The guy is a creative genius. First of all, I don’t think there’s anything I could get Kanye West to say, unless he wanted to say it himself. I don’t think I can add anything to his conversation.  I think he’s pretty much his own man.

Featured image courtesy of Comedy Central.