Comedy festival a reflection on life

Laugh a minute: Diana Nguyen.


THE 2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival wrapped up at the weekend, and it’s a bittersweet feeling to see our show Phil and Me end.

This is Phi and Me Production’s third show since 2011, and it has been amazing to perform our Vietnamese-Australian intergenerational family show to the comedy community, as well as our community.

The shows are inspired by our experiences growing up second generation Vietnamese-Australian and living with our Vietnamese mothers. 

The main character Kim Huong was inspired by my funny partner-in-crime Fiona Chau’s mother (Kim) and my mother (Huong), merging their first two names together to create Kim Huong.

In our minds, the most important reviews we’ve received have come by way of the Generation Y Vietnamese-Australian bloggers we’ve invited to the show; its been wonderful to see the connection with our community. We must be doing something right!

So how exactly do you create a funny and successful show in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival? Here’s how we went about it:

1. What is your show about?

You need a concept. After seeing comedian Felicity Ward’s storytelling show in 2010, I approached Fiona and said, “Let’s tell our story,” and she went with my crazy idea. To register for the MICF in November you need to find a venue, allocate ticketing, know what the show is about and have a photo to sum up the show, even though you do not know what the show will be about until March. Scary.

2. The hard yards

You start writing ideas and a script of some sort. We knew that Phil and Me would be a physical comedy show, so it relied on improvisation and workshopping, a lot of rehearsal, repeated chopping of the script, reworking the plot, music, timing and rehearsing with my year 12 drama teacher Steve McPhail and stage manager Anne Nguyen.

3. Who are you?

In order to have an audience you need to market the show so you are not performing to an empty room. We’ve used Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, emails and our website to market the show. Flyers and posters were put in every Vietnamese restaurant and hub.

4. Love

After five months of work, you get to perform the show — and what a relief it is. You get to feel the reactions of laughter, love and joy from the audience because you know what you’ve been doing has been worth it.

5. Just do it!

Growing up in Vietnamese culture, we’ve been told not to sell ourselves and that we must be humble. However, with the comedy festival you pretty much have to sell your show outside the Melbourne Town Hall to attract new audiences who have never heard about you.

This has been a big part of my life for three years in a row, and if you asked me if I would do this for another six months, I would.

The end result is a story that resonates with the audience through drama, laughter and the love of a Vietnamese mother for her child. Why wouldn’t you do it?

What do you think? Post a comment below.

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