Australian, Vietnamese comedian, Diana Nguyen, has launched her successful live comedy show, Phi and Me, as a web series on YouTube, coinciding with Refugee Week. Phi And Me is a 5-part web series, co-created by Diana and Fiona Chau and is based on their experiences growing up with a Vietnamese mum.
A domestic comedy/drama about 16-year-old Phi Nguyen, dealing with typical teenage stuff and her OTT tiger mum Kim Huong; a constant source of embarrassment as she does everything she can to help her daughter to a better life. A Vietnamese Australian story about a mother's love for her daughter and just how far she will go.
Diana Nguyen has been performing comedy since 2011 and has written and produced her own shows including Phi And Me and her stand up shows Naked and Dirty Diana. She has toured around Australia and has taken Phi And Me live comedy show around the USA and Scotland to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017.
Phi and Me is live at: www.phiandme.tv
Question: How would you describe Phi and Me?
Diana Nguyen: Phi and Me is a tough love story about a refugee mum, Kim Huong who has high expectations of her daughter Phi Nguyen.
We've been called "Pantomime on Crack" by the Herald Sun, we'll take it!
Question: What originally inspired the idea of Phi And Me?
Diana Nguyen: In 2010, I watched Felicity Ward perform her storytelling comedy show, and I sat in the back row thinking, "I've got funny stories to tell, and why are there so many white people in the audience."
So I went home to my co-creator Fiona Chau, who I've known for 25 years, and I said, "Fi, let's write a show about our Vietnamese mums."
We performed at the MICF in 2011, a sold out season and 4 star review from the Herald Sun.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Diana Nguyen: Maybe too real.
The show is based on our two mums. Fiona's mums name is Kim, and my mum's name is Huong. We combined the two names to create the ultimate Vietnamese mum, Kim Huong.
The drama teacher in the webseries, Mr McFail, is based on our drama teacher in high school, Steve McPhail, who was part of our MICF theatre troupe. Yes, we brought our drama teacher out of retirement and he performed with us for five years!
The story is based entirely in Springvale, and we are so glad we can put this suburb on the map. All the scenes were shot in Springvale and we are so proud of that. Even the Pho is from Springvale. The best.
Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know?
Diana Nguyen: Kim Huong is based on our two mums. The reason why we combined our two mums, is because we didn't want to signify one type of mother. We wanted the celebrated all versions of mums, and show that a mum's love is all the same for all cultures.
Question: Why is it important to you to launch Phi And Me during Refugee Week?
Diana Nguyen: The Vietnam War ended in 1975, and 44 years later Phi and Me is the first ever Vietnamese Australian family comedy webseries in the world.
For decades, film and TV has depicted the Vietnam War as the legacy of Vietnamese people, and we wanted to show the cheeky Vietnamese people, the funniest people in the world with no filter.
So it was important to release Phi and Me this week. It is our story. It is our turn.
Question: How and when can we watch Phi And Me?
Diana Nguyen: Phi and Me is LIVE!
Watch all five episodes www.phiandme.tv
#PhiandMeTV and share it with all your family and friends!
Question: What message do you hope audiences take from Phi And Me?
Diana Nguyen: Vietnamese people are funny even through the trauma of war.
We love our children to death, like any mother or father.
Fish sauce goes well with everything.
Question: What's next, for you?
Diana Nguyen: I am heading to the USA in July for a break and LinkedIn work. I have over 23k followers from video content creation.
I am also developing a documentary with StoryBox in Brisbane.
Oh, and writing season 2 of Phi and Me.
Interview by Brooke Hunter