Big-name DJs and a splattering of A-list bands and musicians have been passing through Vietnam for a number of years. But except for Bob Dylan in 2011, and the late French rock legend Johnny Hallyday in 2013, the audience focus has always been the Vietnamese.
So when a comedian of the calibre of Bill Bailey performs in Saigon, there is more than just cause to celebrate. For once the target audience was the English-speaking expat, and for once the emphasis was not on a 5,000-strong arena, but instead a 600-capacity ballroom at the Caravelle Saigon.
Bird Calls, Parsnips and Rumours
The show, naturally, was a sell-out. So popular did it prove that the 200 early bird tickets that were available sold out in three days. This once again was a precedent. Expats in Ho Chi Minh City typically leave decision-making to the last minute. In this instance they were planning in advance.
With his keyboard, bells, range of instruments and jazz pedal, which instantly turned the room into a jazz club, Bailey was sublime. There was something inherently funny about the way he tells stories, about his form of humour which has British comedy written all over it, about his obsession with bird calls and the way he throws in comments like: “That’s not how you butter a parsnip.” It was wonderful.
While some people preferred the first half and others the second, everyone was blown away. Bailey got two standing ovations. Deservedly so.
As one audience member wrote afterwards: “I literally felt like a dry sponge absorbing every morsel of comedy elixir. Talented in so many ways — the ever-questioning bewilderment of surroundings and events reminded me of those inherent British traits that used to surround and engage me. A great night.”
More to Come?
But none of this would have happened without Bill Bailey, himself — he normally only tours outside the UK in the autumn and winter — and without the venue, Caravelle Saigon. And of course the sponsors, Magners Irish Cider, the organisers, Magic Rock and Saigon International Comedy, and you, the audience.
It was a mix that worked. And by the end of the show there was already a rumour going around the room that another famous comedian, who shall remain nameless, will be coming here soon.
Sssh! Don’t tell anyone!
PHOTO BY NICK ROSS