Interview with comedian Thao Thanh Cao

Australian Vietnamese comedian Thao Thanh Cao talks about travelling halfway across the world to perform at Brighton Fringe this May. 

Interview with comedian Thao Thanh Cao

Could you please introduce yourself to the reader?

Hello my name is Thao. I am a stand up comedian from Sydney Australia. I have been doing stand up comedy since 2014.  But I’m sure I have a sense of humour and have made people laugh even earlier than that. 

Could you please tell us about your show? What should an audience expect? 

My show is called Marmalade. Although the name may suggest, there are actually no jokes about oranges. The title of the show was inspired by a confrontation I had with an Australian celebrity chef. The audience can expect a few zesty one liners, observational humour as well as embarrassing stories. There will be plenty of jokes, personal stories and unique perspectives that come from being an Australian Vietnamese comedian. You don’t need to like Marmalade to enjoy it. It’s a comedy buffet and there is something for everyone!

Why did you decide to submit a show to Brighton Fringe? Were there any considerations you had to make?

I have performed in the UK before and I find Australians and Brits have a similar sense of humour. For that reason I was keen to test this show in Brighton. I have also heard positive things about the festival and the city. It was also just a great excuse to return to the UK. One of the things I had to consider was whether some of my jokes, especially those with aussie references or Australian colloquialism, would work or if I needed to tweak a few words and phrases to suit a crowd outside of Australia. So far I have performed this to a few audiences that were visiting from overseas and the jokes still worked so I may not need to make too many adjustments.

How did you know your show was ‘Fringe-ready’?

I’m not sure if you ever know if your show is truly ready. But the purpose of Fringe is to test it out and see. Having performed this at Sydney Fringe Festival, Sydney Comedy Festival, Perth Fringe and Adelaide Fringe and receiving positive reactions from the audience I felt it was ready to take the show abroad to an international crowd to see how relatable and universal these jokes are. 

What advice would you give to a young person who is also interested in taking a show to the Fringe?

You will experience highs and lows when it comes to putting on a fringe show. So it’s important to take care of your physical and mental health. Remember to have fun. As an artist our goal is to connect with an audience but we should also get out and make connections when we are not on stage. So take time to enjoy the city – especially if you have travelled halfway across the world – and do some touristy things (that are free because most artists are on a budget) and meet new people. It’s the best way to find inspiration and be more creative. 

What has been your career path to this point?  Have you also worked outside the arts? 

My career path is to keep writing more jokes, doing more gigs, applying to other festivals and reaching out to different comedy rooms. Continue travelling, visiting differ countries and performing to different audiences. And just getting better at the craft.

I have had many different jobs apart from comedy. My most recent was working in the age care and disability sector. Although it’s different to the arts industry I do believe it has helped me in developing a better sense of humour and being more creative.

What’s great about your job?

When it comes to comedy I really enjoy travelling, and knowing that every day and every show is going to be different. 

What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?

Having  a show is only half of the job. There is still so much involved. A huge amount of your time is devoted to marketing and trying to get an audience. It can be tough and disheartening when you’re not selling out shows as you had hoped. Understanding what motivates people to take action and purchase a ticket is always difficult to figure out. And a marketing strategy that worked a few years ago may not work this time. 

What are the highlights of your career to date?

I don’t know if I have a career highlight. I know what I enjoy most about comedy and it’s the writing process. When a joke enters my head, when that spark of an idea comes to me, or when I’ve finally figured out the right punchline for the premise of a joke that’s been festering in my brain for a year or two. That I find really exciting! And when those jokes work and when there are moments when I see an audience wipe tears from their eyes from laughing, that’s a nice feeling. 

Who do you look at for inspiration?

When it comes to looking for creative inspiration I find it in everyday life so it’s more about being observant and being in the moment. You can find ideas for jokes when you least expect it, whether it’s from having a conversation or witnessing something that happens in public. Often you are not looking for inspiration, it finds you. 

When is your show performing, and where can people find out more? 

My show Marmalade will be performing at Presuming Ed, Caxton Arms and The Snug as part of Brighton Fringe Festival. Three different venues to choose from. Find out more at

Where can people find you online?

My Instagram handle is @thaotcao you can also find me on Facebook @ThaoThanhCaoComedian

For other shows I’m doing you can visit

Header Image Credit: Provided


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