Vượng performs on the stage. In recent years, apart from acting, he also gains achievement in directing and producing comedies. VNS Photo Tiểu Phong
Nguyễn Công Vượng (aka Vượng Râu) has become known for his roles in comedy TV series and plays. In recent years, he's also had success directing and producing comedies. He talks to Minh Thu about the smiles and tears behind the curtain.
Vượng was born in 1980 in the northern province of Nam Định. He became famous for his roles in TV show Gặp Nhau Cuối Tuần (Meeting at the Weekend) produced by Việt Nam Television. In 1998, he started writing scripts for comedies for the stage and TV. Fifteen years ago, he established Nụ Cười Vàng Entertainment Company and started producing Nụ Cười Vàng (Golden Laugh), a programme featuring comedy songs. His work has earned him many awards for acting, producing and script writing.
Inner Sanctum: You are preparing for the 15th edition of Golden Laugh show. Can you tell us something about this special landmark?
This year the show will be titled Behind the Velvet Curtain. I have finished the script for the show. It will tell stories from behind the scenes. We hope audiences will understand more about our work and have more sympathy and love for us. We look great and excited on stage, but out of the limelight, there is sweat and tears.
The show will star singers from different genres such as Chế Linh and Giao Linh (bolero); Quang Hà and Đan Trường (pop); Phương Mỹ Chi (folk); and Thuý Hường and Thuý Hằng (traditional love duets).
Inner Sanctum: You have been in showbiz for more than 20 years. Do you have any regrets?
At my age, I have gained and lost a lot. I taught myself to find balance. I don’t think too much about losses and hardships. I remember but I don’t feel sad about them. They are memories to keep in mind. Now I feel happy and proud of what I've achieved and the obstacles I've overcome.
I just have one regret. I might seem to have everything: the fame, a happy family with my wife and three daughters, a good life, but my parents have passed away.
Nguyễn Công Vượng (aka Vượng Râu) is known for his comedy roles in TV series and plays. VNS Photo Minh Thu
Inner Sanctum: Who do you respect and who have you learnt from?
I have met many artists who taught me precious lessons. I respect the personalities of some older actors who have passed away such as Văn Hiệp and Phạm Bằng. They were not only my colleagues but also my teachers. They went through many difficulties but maintained their passion for acting, transparency and impartiality, with no envy.
They were serious about their work. They respected themselves, their colleagues and audiences. I worked with Bằng and Hiệp on several shows directed by Khải Hưng.
I called Hiệp dad because he was very close to me and was the same age as my father. He was always on time. Some young artists who think they are big stars always arrive late and all the cast and film crew have to wait. It’s not professional. I don't like that.
A few years ago, we were being recorded live. That meant we had to learn the script carefully at home. Despite their age, Hiệp and Bằng had it word-for-word. They never thought of themselves as big stars. They just devoted themselves to the audiences.
Inner Sanctum: In recent years, more comedies have been produced for the New Year. Do you like them?
I think it’s a good sign for performing arts and showbiz. The audience have many options to choose from. Of course, some are better than others. Some have the potential to become blockbusters, but others are disasters.
When I read comments from people about my work, I'm very happy. They really appreciate my comedies which don’t use sex or slapstick to make people laugh.
Inner Sanctum: You have performed on stage and screen, and you've also started directing and producing. What makes you successful?
I am lucky. I always know who I am. I try to learn from others, learn from their failures and successes. Performing on stage is different from acting in front of the camera. So, just practise and learn as much as you can.
Inner Sanctum: You said that you don’t use sex or slapstick to make people laugh, so what makes your work popular?
It’s about life, simple. There are many things in our lives that can make us laugh. For example, you invite your friends to go to a restaurant but forget to bring your wallets. Or sometimes, you can see people in the countryside walking down the road wearing bike helmets. It’s fun. Just create an interesting situation and story for it.
I also find inspiration from social networks to learn what’s trending, but I don't rely on gossip. I believe that only culture, tradition and lifestyle are factors that have long-standing value. Trends only exist for a short time.
Inner Sanctum: What is the role of comedy in life?
It helps reduce pressure in life. I often watch comedies to relax, that’s all. I don’t go to the theatre as a director or a critic. I am just an audience member. You should do the same. Just go to enjoy, not to analyse or try and find mistakes because you won't laugh.
Inner Sanctum: What memory stands out from your career?
Well, I have many sad and happy memories. Let me tell you about one that contains a bit of both. I was performing in Hải Phòng City on a 2m high stage when it suddenly collapsed. I felt panic and pain, but people actually laughed. They thought it was part of the show.
It was painful that I was crying. I thought people would feel sorry for me, but they laughed and clapped. I had no choice but to continue like nothing happened.
Inner Sanctum: People have called you Vượng Râu (Vượng The Beard) since early in your career. Have you had a beard since you were young or is it more to make a statement?
Actually, I am a big fan of former footballer Roberto Baggio. When I was 20, I started growing a beard like him. That’s the reason people call me Vượng Râu. I didn't choose it! VNS