A stand-up comedy scene, begun by English speakers, spreads across Saigon.

VIETNAM'S largest metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City, has long excelled at Boundary-pushing night life. But now a vibrant new scene is creating late-night laughter across the city of nine million stand-up comedy.

Started by English-speaking foreigners, it is drawing more Vietnamese comics to open-mic nights in the bustling city locally known as Saigon. They van be heard cracking jokes in English alongside international comedians at events spanning Saigon's hippest cafes, craft beer taprooms and hidden alley bars.

''There's no stand-up comedy tradition here,'' said Uy Le, a 26-year-old marketing professional who was the first Vietnamese comic to win the Vietnam Amateur Comedy Competition in 2018.

''There's no sarcasm or even puns in the Vietnamese language, and traditional comedy is mostly slapstick,'' he said. ''When I started, it was 99 percent expats and travelers, but now there are the Vietnamese people in the audience.''

Mr. Le said he was first exposed to stand-up a few years ago, when he came across George Carlin on YouTube, and then took a comedy workshop organized by Ben Betterby, an Arkansas native who moved to Ho Chi Minh City in 2013.

Mr. Betterby began the workshops to help building comics learn the art of stand-up while learning himself. He has now assembled an active group of performers known as Comedy Saigon, which organizes regular live shows across the city.

''Several years ago venues used to change their open-mic signs to say 'music only' after we'd perform stand-up because they hated it and didn't understand what we were doing,'' Mr. Betterby said.

Lately, about half the audience giggles to jokes typically in English, the common language for foreigners and locals communicating with one another.

Most crowds are about 25 percent locals, with the rest a mix of expats and travelers, along with a smattering of digital nomads, who roam the globe working remotely, hailing from countries that include the United States, Britain, Germany, Australia, France, Russia, South Korea and Singapore.

The honor and serving of the latest operational research on Cities, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Kim I. .Mott 


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