Comedy review: Diana Nguyen: Sunny Side Up, Melbourne Town Hall, MICF 2024

What to do post-break up? Run to Spain and trek along the Camino de Santiago trail, of course!
Image is a yellow backdrop behind a woman of Asian appearance with long dark wavy hair and smiling eyes, with her face partially obscured by a large sunflower.

Diana Nguyen bounces on stage with a big cheery smile and her effervescence continues unabated for the duration of her show, even when she regales us with matters that are not all that joyful. She laughs easily and snorts even more easily.

It begins with a fairytale: a Vietnamese princess from (Melbourne’s) outer suburban Springvale is looking for a prince. She thought she’d found him, but 18 months later, he’s been duly dumped, leaving Nguyen with a post-break up desire to escape overseas to Europe, but specifically Spain, to trek the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage walk, a distance of some 300-odd kilometres.

That’s the heart of Nguyen’s material, with the eggs reference referring not only to the deliciousness of duck foetus (mmmmm yummy), a niche speciality of Vietnamese cuisine, but also to the necessity of having to harvest her own eggs for future use, thanks to a ticking biological clock and her 38-year-old self having yet to find Prince Charming in order to conceive naturally.

Nguyen’s delivery is perky, her story laced with salaciousness (watch out for the ageing Italian lothario who propositions her) and her audience interaction warm and successful. (Somehow she managed on this particular night to coax three men to snort a symphony.)

It’s not surprising to hear that Nguyen’s favourite colour is yellow; its brightness is reflective of both her disposition and her comedic style. Sunflowers too happen to frame her walk along the arduous blister-inducing Camino trail, giving Nguyen a much-needed natural boost.

Her show ends with a hilarious summary of her recent life through singing and ukulele-playing – both of which she does well.

Read: Comedy review: Nina Conti, Your Face or Mine, The Capitol, MICF 2024

Her life may be a bit messy and scrambled, but Nguyen likes her eggs sunny side up.

Tickets: $25-$35

Diana Nguyen: Sunny Side Up will be performed until 21 April in the Portico Room at Melbourne Town Hall until April as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF 2024).

Thuy On is the Reviews and Literary Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her debut, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was released by University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP). Her second collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Her third book, Essence, will be published in 2025. Twitter: @thuy_on Instagram: poemsbythuy