One of our most frequent requests and opinions from readers and the people we profile on our Website are about the availability of activity-based workshops and classes that specialize in certain topics. Ranging from design, cooking, art, among other areas.
One of the most important skills anyone can have, public speaking, has been championed by a group called Storytelling Saigon, led by standup comedian Ben Betterby. With a following of a few thousand in Ho Chi Minh City, we’ve had the chance to enjoy a few of their events to get an understanding of the need and demand for workshops around this space. We also managed to catch up with Ben to learn about his work in providing free, accessible workshops to people in Ho Chi Minh City, while also getting his perspectives on living and working in Vietnam for the last couple of years.
What themes and topics are your workshops geared toward?
Public speaking and confidence-building. I manage a group here, Storytelling Saigon, that focuses on skill building in those areas. We have a few thousand followers and have built up a great crew of members interested in workshops and events in this space. It’s roughly 50% foreigners and 50% locals. All the workshops are in English and are free.
Another group I’m working on is Comedy Saigon, where members can focus entirely on stand up comedy workshops. We’ve had as many as 200 people register interest and we keep growing. I’m excited to see where it’s headed next. The last one is my own personal brand, Ben Betterby. The shows are smaller, and we make an effort to shake hands and look everyone in the eye. An average audience for those is thirty people. These shows are positive, uplifting, and family friendly.
How did you get started in Vietnam?
I’ve been here for about two years, originally from Arkansas in the United States. Come to a show and find out why I came to Vietnam. Our shows need an understanding of English to enjoy, but we do everything possible to otherwise make it accessible.
What did you do before working on stand up comedy?
I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh. I’ve spent many years learning how to make people laugh and to this day it’s rewarding for me. I am constantly striving to get better at what I do and share what I learn with others. I have a podcast that can be accessed on my website where I share what I have learned and experienced in my life. People can email me at [email protected] with any questions or comments they have about life or performing. I will get back to them.
What are some differences between Vietnamese comedy and elsewhere?
Western stand up comedy is all about having one person on stage, making people laugh. Asian comedy usually involves many people on stage making people laugh. Both are equally difficult. There are also amazing Vietnamese performers such as Trung Dân, Thu Trang, and Hoàng Phi. They both perform in Vietnamese and I love watching them over and over. Their styles are modern yet with an old Vietnamese twist that has been past down and is generational humor. It’s subtle and finely-tuned.
Can you tell us one short, memorable story about doing business or living in Vietnam?
One thing I love about Vietnamese culture is how often the people laugh. And how deeply they laugh. It’s real and from the heart. One of my favorite pastimes on a weekend morning is to watch all the grandmothers in the park with their babies just laughing. Holding them up to the sun in the morning. Around 5:40 am to 5:50 am. The smiles here in Vietnam too, it’s easy to catch a quick smile from most people. And best of all it’s real.
What are some interesting things about yourself that people don’t know about?
I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able to continue supporting free workshops, hosting hundreds of people over the years. I’m happy to be able to share what I can about public speaking and the art of storytelling. Many may never get on stage, but I know, because of emails and messages I get, that many take what they learn and use it at work, home, and school. The skills and confidence they get helps improve their lives. Workshops are weekly, just shoot us a note to check out the next one.
What’s missing in the food and beverage scene in Ho Chi Minh City?
Nothing. I have everything that my heart can desire.
Who should we speak with next?
The lady from Tipsy Art, Trang Nguyen. Her team believes in what they’re doing.