Hi Hanoi Travel Blog | Chapter 3

r.j. kushner
3 min readDec 16, 2023

Went to a bar called Retrobop to do an open mic on Wednesday. The bar was two levels and had some arcade games in it. There was a TV video game room Nhi said it smelled odd, but I insisted it smelled like a Pizza Hut, pointing out that there was a pizza place next door. Then another person walked in and said, “Did someone just vomit in here?”

A guy after the mic said he liked my “gear,” which is what I believe people in the scene here call “sets.”

“Are you a comic?” I said.

He said, “No, I own this place. That’s why I was running up and down the steps so much.”

“Oh,” I said. “This is such a cool place.”

“Thanks,” he said. Then he turned and ran up the steps.

Outside everyone was smoking and we talked to a man from Berlin about improv. He said nobody goes to Berlin for the food and that he doesn’t miss it. We shook hands when we parted and he told me his name was Ulysses, and that kind of caught me off guard a little bit.

I got a coffee at a chain here called The Highlands. Outside two groups of preschool students marched by in long, single-file lines, holding the back of each other’s shirts.

When we came downstairs to get a taxi to go to the comedy show Thursday night an amateur rock band was playing “Imagine” in a small cafe.

The comics at the club waited in a loft above the stage and came down the stairs when their name was called to perform their “gear.”

Before I went up (or rather “down”), a guy pointed at a pen in my shirt pocket and said, “Do you really use that or is it part of your costume?” He saw right through me.

The audience was made up of British, Spanish, Irish, Vietnamese, South Africans, Canadians, Russians, Welsh and one American. Somebody also brought a three-month-old baby named Craig.

Spent Friday in the city again. We met up with a friend and had pho and explored more gift shops.

In a shop that sold scarfs and small elephant statues there was a karaoke machine going upstairs. We listened to a middle aged man sing his heart out and stop suddenly. Then he walked down the stairs in nothing but his boxers. A woman scolded him and he sighed and went back up the stairs. Some days you can’t catch a break.

We stopped for sweets at an outdoor place and squatted on small blue plastic stools as the staff threw empty boxes over our heads.

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r.j. kushner

Dubbed by the New York Times as “all out of free articles this month.”