Ronny Chieng had no interest in full-time ‘The Daily Show’ hosting gig

He will be at the Tabernacle March 23 for a stand-up show.
RONNY CHIENG: SPEAKEASY. Ronny Chieng in RONNY CHIENG: SPEAKEASY. Cr. Marcus Russell Price/Netflix © 2022

Credit: Marcus Russell Price/Netflix

Credit: Marcus Russell Price/Netflix

RONNY CHIENG: SPEAKEASY. Ronny Chieng in RONNY CHIENG: SPEAKEASY. Cr. Marcus Russell Price/Netflix © 2022

Ronny Chieng has been part of “The Daily Show” as a correspondent for nine years through Trevor Noah’s entire run. He stuck around last year as Comedy Central sifted through more than a dozen guest hosts before recently settling on a temporary arrangement: Monday appearances by standard bearer Jon Stewart with correspondents like Chieng filling in the rest of the week.

“I was happy with whatever decision they made,” said Chieng in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week ahead of his sold-out stand-up appearance at The Tabernacle Saturday night, March 23. (There are literally two single seats left on Live Nation as of Tuesday morning.)

But Chieng himself had no genuine interest in being the full-time host. “I didn’t think it was for me,” he said.

Ronny Chieng guest hosting on "The Daily Show" in 2023. COMEDY CENTRAL

Credit: COMEDY C

icon to expand image

Credit: COMEDY C

The 38-year-old Malaysian Chinese comedian, who grew up Singapore and the United States, said he was as surprised as everyone else when Stewart was named a host ― at least part time.

“They kept it secret from everybody,” Chieng said. “I was doing a stand-up show New Jersey, the night the news came out. He lives in the area so I texted him to see if he wanted to jump on the show unannounced. But he never replied to me. Okay, he’s too busy. Turns out he was trying to keep it quiet so he didn’t respond because he didn’t want to lie to me.”

Chieng, who nabbed a 2022 Netflix stand-up special “Speakeasy” with a stand-up style that is aggressively sardonic, said he has tried to follow the career footsteps of bigger comics like Bill Burr and John Mulaney both creatively and from a business standpoint.

“They both keep their teams very lean, but they hire specific people to help them with their tours,” he said. “I learned from them. And I try to make my show more of a show. I have a DJ. I have openers. I need someone to manage that.”

He has even opened for Mulaney, including stops in Atlanta. “He’s one of the greatest of all time,” Chieng said. “He’s mastered it all: sketches, sitcoms, monologues.”

Chieng has also been building his own acting career, most notably in 2019′s “Crazy Rich Asians.” He has no idea if a sequel is forthcoming. “I was 20th on the call sheet,” he said. “You’d be better off asking Google.”

But he did land a voice-over gig with an actual animated sequel “Kung Fu Panda 4,” which is currently the No. 1 film in the U.S. and he did not have to audition for the role as Captain Fish, who lives in a pelican’s mouth.

“It’s always nice to be asked,” Chieng said. “It’s nice to be wanted to do voices. That franchise has been around for awhile, very established. It’s fun to be part of things that I used to watch.”

He will also be in a Hulu series with Jimmy O. Yang called “Interior Chinatown” based on the best-selling book of the same name, set to come out later this year.

Chieng has done several shows in Atlanta over the years and was part of four shows shot in Atlanta at the Tabernacle when Trevor Noah was host in late 2022.

But Chieng’s visit to Atlanta the previous year in late 2021 was especially memorable. COVID-19 testing was still de rigueur at that time and he tested positive an hour before the show, forcing him to postpone at the last second.

“People were pretty upset,” he said. “There was nothing I could. Only later did I realize in Georgia, nobody gives a [expletive] about COVID. I did a make-up show a couple of months later and it went fine.”

He added: “If I get COVID again before I come to Atlanta, I promise I will not care.”


Ronny Chieng

7 p.m. Saturday, March 23. $56 and up. Tabernacle, 152 Luckie St. NW, Atlanta,