Everyone who went to see Jennifer Wong in Spineless last night probably realises it wasn’t her best night. The hesitant, nervous delivery of jokes worked for a while, but wore thin. She quickly abandoned the theme of trying to get a book published, let alone write one, within five minutes. Taking us through the intricacies of Chinese language was worth a chuckle, but heavily relied on reiteration without payoff.
While we laughed at her jokes, at around the thirty-five minute mark it was pretty clear that she’d run out of material. I don’t know if the nerves got the better of her and she forgot it all, or if that was really all she brought to the festival, but as the remainder of the show ticked past it was uncomfortable for everyone – comedian and audience.
She began openly counting down the time left, and asked someone in the audience to finish her show. She lamented at how there were reviewers in the audience, and she’d spent money on promotion. She searched unsuccessfully for her notes. As she finally reached the end of your show, the silences stretched beyond uncomfortable.
It was admirable that Wong made it to the end of the hour, but as we silently filed out we all wondered if she was alright. I’m willing to concede that this might have been just a spectacularly bad night, but if that’s the case there’s a lot of room for improvement.
An hour is a long time for anyone to fill on stage, let alone with insufficient, weak material. Wong’s show needs a lot of work, or this could have just been a bad show. I can’t answer that. All I can do is wish her the best.
Jennifer Wong is Spineless is on at the Portland Hotel, 7pm Tues – Sat, 6pm Sun until April 21st.