Funny thing, comedy. Especially stand-up. Written and performed well, it can have you feebly repeating the jokes to your best chums until they unfriend you on social media. Done badly, it can have you staring at your shoes, squirming in embarrassment. Ronny Chieng: Speakeasy , his second Netflix stand-up special, sees him doing anything but speaking easily or softly in a New York restaurant suggestive of a dodgy dive bar (until you glimpse the cabaret tables). In a rambling, repetitive, hour-long rant that feels like a tour rehearsal released by mistake, the United States-based Malaysian entertainer and Singapore and Australia alumnus announces that, yes, people are stupid: he’s swiftly into pummelling the cause of anti-vaxxers who screamed for Covid-19 jabs, but now refuse them unless they are given obscure scientific evidence that they are safe. Singapore provides context for a clichéd joke on the clichéd subject of chewing gum and caning. But in fairness, a story about women as vending machines does show some invention within a largely unfocused, unsubtle and unfunny routine so drab it made one question whether, according to memory, Chieng’s first Netflix outing, 2019’s Asian Comedian Destroys America! had actually been far sharper (it had). Eventually, the real subjects of his bile heave into view. Pandering to his audience on the topic of American comedy (“it’s fun, it’s easy”. Cue the whoops and hollers), he takes aim at online detractors for – shock! – expressing opinions and “mining for outrage” – precisely his own shtick. Oh, the irony. “Who the f*** reviews comedy?” he asks rhetorically, perhaps fearing what’s coming. But it’s the British, and standard-target colonials with their “exit strategy”, who cop the most flak (unless he’s being ironic again; it’s difficult to tell). “I love Brexit because I hate the United Kingdom and I hope Brexit destroys that country,” spouts a defensive Chieng, proceeding to revisit his dire (apocryphal?) experiences at the hands of London audiences (and tediously explain the gag). A time-travelling ancient Roman in present-day Japan? Only on Netflix He also appears to have an abhorrence of Rowan Atkinson’s globally successful comic creation, dismissing him as “Mr f***ing Bean”. (The hit, however, backfires painfully: Chieng’s rendering of Mr Bean’s jerky bearing is the highlight of his routine.) Which brings us to the most wearisome aspect of the entire event. Chieng drops a lazy, scarcely credible 84 F-bombs when he could have spent the time doing something useful, such as cracking one-liners. (I’d reconfirm that startling figure, but repeat a wasted hour and the joke would be on me.) There are obnoxious pub bores more amusing. But hey, it’s not all bad: a long and detailed inspection, carried out during Ronny Chieng: Speakeasy , reveals that my shoes are shiny. Tokyo story Much wallowing awaits viewers nostalgic for not-so-long-ago Japan in Tokyo Vice (HBO Go, all eight episodes now available). Fans of the recently desecrated Hotel Okura will turn misty-eyed from the off. A crime drama that doesn’t turn bashfully away from the sleaze and violence essential to yakuza power , the series is based (with considerable latitude) on American journalist Jake Adelstein’s memoir of his time on the Tokyo police beat. Defying history (and his new colleagues’ incredulity and occasional antagonism) to be employed, as the first foreigner, by a renowned newspaper, Adelstein (portrayed by Ansel Elgort) quickly discovers that before he can fight any sort of good fight, he must battle a stifling corporate culture that prizes obedience above initiative – and any genuine reporting. Ken Watanabe co-stars as a cop with a conscience in the company of fellow detectives whose job is simply “to clear cases” because “there’s no murder in Japan”. Adelstein, however, is determined to liven up the headlines.