One of the things I remember most about comedian Anh Do wasn’t funny at all.
My neighbour’s copy of the book.
He’d failed to turn up for a scheduled live interview at the radio station where I worked, leaving us scrambling to find alternative material and pretending to our audience that we hadn’t promised he was coming on the show. I don’t remember the year but I do remember that I’d dryly joked, “Can someone tell his publicist that wasn’t very funny?”.
But several years along I find myself seated among fans who do find Anh Do hilarious. It was in a packed out Hamer Hall at Melbourne’s Arts Centre which seats more than 2,500 people, in a show based on his true story. I was given tickets by a neighbour who couldn’t go at the last minute and wondered if I’d take them off her hands?
Let’s say it was some of the best money I never spent.
I was familiar with some of Anh Do’s story. We had interviewed him (before the no-show) in our studios and learned of his mesmerising tale of his family escaping war-torn Vietnam, the dramatic confrontation with Thai pirates enroute, near-death encounters and the sad and sometimes comical situations that can only come from cross-cultural misunderstandings and trying to survive with nothing. It’s as admirable and awe-inspiring as you can get.
But listening, watching and letting Anh Do take you on an hour-long journey through his story interspersed with photos and video clips was an emotional trip of tears and laughter I did not anticipate. Neither, I suspect, did many in the audience who were expecting a stand-up comic to be well, just a stand-up comic. Instead, we found ourselves treated to this visual intersection of history, humanity and dramedy that sum the parts of Anh Do’s life.
In other words, it’s the comedy show for those who don’t usually go to comedy shows. And if you’re like me, you might just walk out experiencing a range of emotions closer to having just watched a Pixar movie than a Seinfeld show. You’ve been warned.
If you must, here’s a sneak peek at an Anh Do live show from about three years ago. His act has become more polished since then and of course, there’s nothing like a live experience.
Anh Do will be back in Melbourne again in April, at the Regent Theatre this time (and elsewhere in Australia). Do yourself a favour and get the tickets.
p/s To enjoy it properly do NOT read the book just before watching the show.
pp/s I’m blaming the publicist for the no-show.