For those who love stand up comedy, we are sorry to inform that Ben Betterby is leaving Vietnam in two months. But before he catches his flight, we manage to catch him for an exclusive interview. In this interview, Ben will let us know more about himself, his adventures in Vietnam as well as his career as a stand up comedian!
Hi Ben, it’s sad to learn that you’re saying goodbye to Vietnam in two months, leaving behind all your audience. Firstly, for those who already know you, is there any reason that you’d love to share? Or any plan to come back in the near future?
Over the last 7 years me and my team have built, maintained, and worked to improve the local stand-up comedy, storytelling, and improv comedy scenes in Saigon. We have put on hundreds of workshops and shows for both expats and local Vietnamese. We have always strived to put on shows that have heart, talent, and love. The workshops and shows were always about giving as many people as possible opportunities to perform, improve artistically, and enjoy attending English language art shows. It's hard to be an expat in a foreign country and we wanted English speaking expats to have a little piece of home. We also wanted to share Western arts with local Vietnamese people. To answer your question, I believe we were successful in accomplishing our goals. At the same time, through all the workshops and shows I have personally become closer to my goal of getting good enough in comedy to become a professional stand-up comedian. I'm now leaving Saigon - my home of 7 years to journey to America to become a full-time comedian!!! Please consider liking my Facebook page to follow along in my journey.
Can we know a bit more about you, how long you have been here as well as your decision to become a stand-up comedian in Vietnam?
When I was 22 years old, I went to an open mic comedy night at the local comedy club in my home town of Litter Rock, Arkansas. They had all performers waiting outside in the parking lot next to a door that entered directly on to the stage. The MC told me that I was last that night. I had never done it before. I was sweating and nauseous and horrified of going through that door. Every 5 mins the MC would open the door and call a name and someone would go through the door to the sound of music and applause. They would then stay in the club and join the audience after their set. Eventually I was standing there with some other guy I didn't know. The door opened. The other guy went through. The MC looked me in the eyes and said, “Get ready, buddy. You're next.”. As soon as the door opened, I vomited, looked around the empty parking lot, ran to my car and drove away.
When I came to Vietnam 4 years later I became very close friends with an Irish guy named Dan. He told me that he wanted to do comedy. I told him that I did too and we started the scene here in Saigon.
It has been a long way to go but we can feel the love people have towards your performances. People have been talking about you a lot. Where would you move to and will you continue your stand-up comedy career there?
I have been very lucky to meet fellow comedians Uy Le and Caleb T. Jones here in Saigon. Together, we have created a positive and loving atmosphere at our shows for Comedy Saigon, Storytelling Saigon, Improv Saigon and At A Table's variety shows. Because I'm so lucky to be surrounded by loyal, honest, intelligent, and hardworking creatives, others have started to pay attention. I like to practice my performances at the market. It helps me overcome my stage-fright. There's no more difficult audience than the ladies selling fruit and ao dais. A few times recently people have driven by and shouted out, “Ben Betterby!!!”
When you leave Vietnam, what will you miss the most?
My friends, my ex-wife Vee, and the Vietnamese people. I'm tearing up typing this.
Where should we go to watch you on stage again before your departure flight?
I will have a fairwell tour in May, 2019. I'm trying to perform in every city in Vietnam that I can!!! I’ll be touring to cities and giving workshops in Public Speaking, Storytelling, Improv, and Stand-up Comedy!!! If you are interested in attending or helping bring this to your city, please message Ben Betterby on Facebook!!!
That sounds so nice. Hope you can make it to Ninh Binh, my hometown!!! But is there any channel we can watch your best performances online?
Please follow me on Facebook at Ben Betterby!!!
Ho Chi Minh City is going to lose a hilarious man. Please leave a comment if you've got something to talk to Ben!