Ronny Chieng has an autobiographical sitcom headed to Comedy Central. International Student piloted on Australia’s ABC channel in April and has now been picked up to series, slated to arrive on Comedy Central and the Australian station ABC in June of next year. The Daily Show correspondent revealed the news on fellow standup Des Bishop’s podcast, saying that the sitcom would “address” the Malaysian-born comic’s experience of arriving at law school in Melbourne at 18.
Starring and co-written by Chieng with Declan Fay, International Student’s pilot was part-filmed at the University of Melbourne and features the comic playing a version of himself, “exaggerated for comic effect.” Speaking to the Guardian before it aired, he claimed as inspirations the autobiographical elements of Louie, the silliness and campus setting of Community, the absurdism of Scrubs, and the pace and humor of Broad City.
The comedian joked that he was worried about being sued because some of the characters were so close to their real-life counterparts. He told the newspaper: “University characters are prime for parody, you know – the self-entitled rich kids to the self-important protestors to the international students.” He added: “We all came [to Melbourne] for a few years, we studied, then all my friends left – they went back to Singapore, Malaysia. It almost feels like a dream. I wanted to capture that moment for the record.”
“You don’t have to be an international student to get this story, I hope, or Asian or a student. This story is about that weird period of life where everyone’s trying to fit in, and it’s OK not to.”
Prior to International Student, Chieng’s most high-profile sitcom role was in the Australian series Problems, in which he played star Sam Simmons’ talking cat, Mr Meowgi.
Here’s the trailer for the International Student pilot: