Hung Like Me

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Hung Lee, possibly the West’s only Vietnamese stand-up, has been performing at the Adelaide Fringe fro 20 years – not that you could necessarily tell from this ramshackle mish-mash of a show, which jumps around so erratically in style and content, you’d be forgiven for thinking he had a multiple personality disorder.

The first Hung we see is the loud zany and utterly irritating one. With goggle-eyed stare, he shrieks out his weak punchlines, which consist mainly of increasingly desperate puns on his name and worlds like ‘gook’. You just know he’s going to end up putting on his best comedy accent to promise ‘me so horny. Me love you long time,’ and sure enough, you haven’t long to wait till he does just that. After 20 years, you’d have thought he might have graduated past this borderline racist stereotype.

Such a grating delivery would be too much to bear for an hour, so thankfully Hung does take his foot off the gas ten minutes in, transforming into Hung #2. This one’s an intelligent, but still playful, chap with something interesting to say. He was one of the first boat people to arrive in Australia in 1975, after his family home near the Saigon Imperial Palace was seized. He recently return back to his homeland, and has the footage to prove it, where he sought out the sculptures his artist father designed and learned that he may be able to reclaim his property.

His first-hand tale offers a fascinating insight that doesn’t need the cheap jokes Hung keeps inserting – and this could easily have sustained the whole show.

Instead, we have to make way for Hung #3 who, inspired by the idea that Iraq is the new Vietnam, takes on the War on Terror. With comic songs and home-compiled videos of war footage. It may be a worthy target, but Hung attacks it with no sophistication. After he announces a song about Jean Charles de Menezes for example, we get Bang Bang (I Shot You Down), then he changes the opening line of Suspicious Minds to, ‘We’re caught in Iraq’. Not big or clever.

Such cheap shots demean him. With a Fringe show, comics are given licence to share their unique experiences and opinions. While Hung attempts that, he can’t let go of the impulse to play the goofy clown.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Adelaide, March 2007

Review date: 31 Mar 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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