Diana Nguyen immediately used her JobKeeper payments to buy a whole lot of vibrators, and that is possibly the best use of the funds we’ve heard so far this pandemic. That joke epitomises the fun, celebratory, unapologetic and compelling show that is Nguyen’s 2021 MICF offering, Chasing Keanu Reeves.
For a show called Chasing Keanu Reeves, there will, in fact, be no Keanu Reeves. Well except for a Keanu face mask. And some Keanu facts. And a ukulele named Keanu. And a teeny Keanu doll whipped inexplicably from somewhere on Nguyen’s body. Oh and the Keanu soundbites ready to be whipped out at any moment for those worthy (or for those who arrive late – be on time).
Bounding out onto the stage, Nguyen has the energy to grab the audience’s attention and the candour to hold it. It feels like she’s bouncing off her gags as much as the crowd, with her stories detailing the conundrums of being a woman in your 30s (do you impoverish yourself to freeze your eggs?) as well as growing up in a Vietnamese family in Australia (the six different tonalities of the Vietnamese language provide ample comic opportunity when translating nicknames).
There’s plenty of objectively funny, broadly appealing gags – no one will ever not laugh about people shitting the bed, sex, or mortifying moments with your mum. And Nguyen’s genuine nature sets you at ease as she talks candidly about hilarious moments while receiving head. But Nguyen uses these jokes to bring the room to a deeper conclusion, one that is cleverly foreshadowed but still catches you unawares in a powerful moment.
Nguyen originally planned to run Chasing Keanu Reeves in 2020, before that idea was dashed. But the forced wait seems to be what it needed, with Nguyen saying it’s not a show she could have done before now.
We don’t want to give too much away – you should go see it for yourself. Suffice to say that while some might disagree that comedy is the place to unpack heavy topics, we agree with Nguyen that comedy gives you a platform that really can affect social change – and you might as well use it.
Chasing Keanu Reeves is bold, lively and unafraid to say what’s important. Ending with a musical number and school formal-inspired lights, we’d just like to say we wish Nguyen all the best with her Carols by Candlelight aspirations.