Caught Phi and Me Too at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival last night, which triumphed over the sauna-like conditions (due to some heating malfunction at the venue, Hairy Little Sista) to easily win over the sweaty audience with a tour-de-force of ethnic humour.
The brainchild of Fiona Chau (playing geeky teenage boy Phi Nguyen) and Diana Nguyen (as his very tiger-ish mother Kim), the 1 hour comedic play centres around the theme of growing up Vietnamese in Australia, and a Vietnamese mother's particularly gruelling brand of matriarchal love. The pair are assisted by Steve McPhail playing a variety of characters; I'm told he was originally their high school drama teacher.
All three give good performances (seeing McPhail play a Vietnamese auntie is hilariously surreal), but the star turn undeniably comes from Diana Nguyen - her expressive face, stage energy and over-the-top Vietnamese accent make the larger-than-life Kim an unforgettable character, yet one that all the Asians in the audience found instantly recognisable.
Personally I love this kind of fobby humour, although I understand it's not for everyone. But anyone with even a mild familiarity with Asian parents - or even "ethnic" parents for that matter - will get a kick out of this. For those who have never experienced tiger parenting, it's still a very enjoyable peek into that world. There were occasionally jokes that my Vietnamese friends found hilarious that went completely over my head, but for the most part, it was easily relateable.
Phi and Me Too is on until Sunday the 8th of April.