From engineering to comedy, Sean Diao brings his best material to this year’s Comedy Festival

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From engineering to comedy, Sean Diao brings his best material to this year’s Comedy Festival

Words by Jacob McCormack

Moving from China to Melbourne at the age of 23 in search of a career in civil engineering, Sean Diao enrolled in a masters degree to study just that, but soon steered away from that path to pursue a life spent as a comic.

He quickly found out that balancing a day job as an engineer and attempting to develop his comedic practice at night was unsustainable, so he ditched the former in hopes of fulfilling a childhood passion for humour.

“As a kid I really liked humour,” says Diao. “I liked cartoons in newspapers, like Garfield. In university I looked into stand-up on the internet.”

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His comedic practice has long since departed from his first experience of performing in China. It was in a fateful moment at an end of year party for the university magazine he was involved in that the director of the publication urged him to provide the entertainment for the party, a Chinese cultural custom.

“One of my very first stand-up experiences was at university in China,” he says. “I was involved in the university magazine, and at the end of the year they usually have a party. In the party, people have to perform, to entertain each other, which is a very Chinese thing. I was picked to do the entertainment, so I made some material, but I was nervous because I had never done that before.”

Rather than erupting into laughter at the hands of an attempted joke, the audience in attendance remained silent. An outcome hard to receive as a comic.

The reception that Diao received didn’t dishearten him though and now Diao is an acclaimed stand-up, garnering plaudits from many seasoned Comedy Festival veterans. He’s set to bring his new show Laugh Or China Releases A New Virus to this year’s Melbourne Comedy Festival.

Sean Diao performs Laugh Or China Releases A New Virus at Club Voltaire on selected dates from April 4 to April 23, and at Mantra Studio on selected dates from April 8 to 14. Buy tickets here.

This article was made in partnership with Sean Diao.