Sheng Wang’s utterly sublime hour, Sweet and Juicy, is packed with laughs but also feels noticeably unhurried. Not only is the special Wang’s Netflix debut, but it’s fellow comedian Ali Wong’s first time directing, as well. Between her light directorial touch and Wang’s languid demeanor, the set is like a breath of fresh air, brilliant in its simplicity.
The Houston-raised comedian, who previously wrote on Fresh Off the Boat, delivers story after story in a relaxed manner that swiftly puts the crowd (and the viewer at home) at ease. He’s somehow both silly and matter-of-fact at the same time, maintaining his good-natured persona even when he’s giving out about our fundamentally broken healthcare system. Every joke has time to breathe, making Sweet and Juicy an especially serene and satisfying watch.
Throughout the hour, Wang focuses on the banal, forgoing any bombast or shock value. Instead, he taps into quotidian pleasures and problems, like office printing privileges (“Have you ever thrown away warm paper?”) or the perils of washing a cookie sheet. It could be difficult to draw in an audience with such milquetoast subjects, but Wang’s genius operates outside conventional confines. Between his creativity and lackadaisical onstage energy, he renders even a seemingly dull topic a comedic goldmine.
The special also shines because of Wang’s precise physical comedy. His movements are understated but still gut-bustingly hilarious—his careful miming of applying expensive eye cream proves a particular stand-out—and he can also venture into the more eccentric. Just wait until you see Wang’s bit about “the spirit of the panty” moving through him.
The only real drawback of Sweet and Juicy is that Wang’s lulling delivery could be perceived as a little one-note. That one note is pretty damn great though; the special feels like carving out a space on the couch next to your stoned friend and listening to all of their most hilarious thoughts about the world—in Wang’s case, that buying pants from Costco is the ultimate sign of letting go (not his only Costco reference, which begs the question, is he a secret Costco plant?) and that you can get revenge on a rude child by not recycling anymore.
Sweet and Juicy gives Wang the introduction that his distinctive comedic voice deserves. Sit back, relax, and prepare to laugh your ass off.
Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.