Phil Wang chats knock-knock jokes, sandwiches, and Timothée Chalamet’s cheekbones

“There are always jokes out there waiting,” comedian Phil Wang says ahead of his set as part of Just For Laughs Sydney. 

The 2023 edition of Just For Laughs Sydney is just around the corner, with some of the country’s (and indeed the world’s) biggest comedians set to rip through venues across the city from November 12.

The week-long festivities will be home to all-star stand-up nights, standalone sets and a lineup so starry it warrants its own constellation. 

Phil Wang Just For Laughs Sydney
Credit: Henry Jay Kamara

A major drawcard for this year’s festival is UK comedian Phil Wang, who is bringing his trademark wit to a headline show at Enmore Theatre on November 13.

With our collective funny bones braced, we caught up with Phil Wang for a yarn on all things comedy, working with Timothée Chalamet, and the no-go zone that is knock-knock jokes. 

Scroll down for our full interview with Wang, and head here to find tickets to his Just For Laughs performance. For information on more shows taking place during the festival, head here


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HAPPY: How do you go about observing things in your life that go on to become jokes in your set?

PHIL: I just keep my eyes and ears open you know? Never blink. Never rest. There are always jokes out there waiting in the tall grass like Pokemon. You just have to throw your Pokeball (notebook) at them when you see them.

HAPPY: You’ve gotten some well-deserved praise for the physical comedy elements of your sets. How important is physical comedy when trying to get a laugh?

PHIL: Well, it certainly helps if the actual words of the joke aren’t good enough! Then you can just distract the audience with a touch of the old razzle dazzle, and everyone leaves thinking you were good. Suckers.

HAPPY: You’re also set to appear in Wonka opposite Timothée Chalamet. Did you find that your experience as a stand-up comic helped in some way while making your acting debut?

PHIL: Yes, it did. I asked Timothee where he was from and what he did for a living. Then I roasted him for having such high cheekbones (I brought my own microphone). It broke the ice and won over the Oompah Loompahs. Very important to have them on side cos their union is extremely powerful.

HAPPY: Your jokes range from the personal to the political. Is there anything you consider off-limits when it comes to comedy? 

PHIL: Knock-knock jokes. You have to be responsible with your platform, you know?


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HAPPY: What is a topic or area that you believe is especially ripe for comedy?

PHIL: I always find people like to hear about differences in cultures. Because you get to satisfy both the ‘yes that’s me!’ pleasure when you talk about their culture, and the ‘oh that’s interesting’ pleasure when you talk about a culture that’s different to theirs. 

HAPPY: As a successful comedian, is your life just a series of “that could be joke!” moments in everyday life? 

PHIL: No. It’s more a series of sandwiches.


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HAPPY: Who are some fellow comedians that you think more people should know about?

PHIL: This year we very sadly lost the great comedians Gareth Richards in the UK and Cal Wilson in Australia long before their times. Watch some of their stuff. 

HAPPY: Are there items you want to tick off your bucket list while visiting Sydney for Just For Laughs?

PHIL: This is the list of restaurants to try that I’ve put in my phone: Malay Chinese Noodle Bar, Tan Viet, Alice’s Makan, Menya Noodle Bar, Chat Thai, Long grain, Sixpenny, and Lumi.

And I saw on Instagram there’s a KFC themed nightclub, so I’ll have to go there because KFC is probably my favourite restaurant. Hehehe Come to my show!