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'Paris by Night' Host Nguyễn Ngọc Ngạn Announces Retirement Next Year

Come 2022, fans of the variety show Paris by Night will miss the dulcet tones and witty banter from its veteran host Nguyễn Ngọc Ngạn.

According to Ngạn’s son, John Dinh Vuong Nguyen, his father unveiled during a recent taping of the latest Paris by Night volume that he would retire in 2022. The concert was the 132nd installment of the mega-popular concert show, which took place at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California. Paris by Night has been a staple music concert among communities of diaspora Vietnamese for decades.

“I am very proud of my dad for [what] he has been doing for 30 years. I get to travel with him and see all of his shows and I get to meet all the performers,” John wrote on his personal Facebook page. “We will all miss him and I hope that everyone will see him one last time before he retires. I love you, dad.”

Nguyễn Ngọc Ngạn was a prolific writer before he became a beloved host. Photo via Nhac Xua.

2022 will mark the 30th year of Ngạn as the cohost of Paris by Night, alongside his trusty co-host Nguyễn Cao Kỳ Duyên. A writer by trade, he was invited by Thúy Nga Productions, the concert’s creator, to host the show for the first time in 1992. Ngạn’s articulation and affable spirits proved to be a hit among viewers and he became a permanent fixture of the show.

“When the Thúy Nga Center first broached the subject in May 1992, I didn’t dare to immediately accept, because I needed to ask for my loved ones’ opinion,” Ngạn said in an interview in Vietnamese. “I wasn’t confident. Then, in the writing realm, I had published some works and, to some extent, had some success. On stage, I was a complete newbie, so I couldn’t help feeling hesitant.”

Eventually, his father in Saigon was the impetus compelling him to accept the new opportunity: “I couldn’t return to Vietnam, so I wanted my dad to see me after 10 years abroad. Thúy Nga shows are pirated [in Vietnam] a lot, so there’s a high chance that he will see me and hear me talk.”

After a few volumes, Ngạn started to realize the importance of Paris by Night in promoting Vietnamese culture and history. “It’s the kind of show that reaches nearly every Vietnamese family overseas and in the country. I could use it as a form to discuss literature and history with young [Vietnamese] people who grew up abroad.”

Before becoming known as the host of Paris by Night, Ngạn was a prolific writer. Most famously, he penned a number of horror stories that have amassed a cult following, especially after a series of tapes in which Ngạn read the stories out loud were released. A huge fan of Stephen King, Ngạn was fascinated by King’s vast imagination.

“During the Christmas of 1998, we were touring Europe; everybody moved across nations on long-haul bus rides,” he reminisced. “On the rides lasting seven or eight hours, we had to take turns telling stories so the bus driver wouldn't fall asleep. The tales sometimes turn to horror and somebody asked if I would write ghost stories and record them on cassettes. I thought that was a whimsical suggestion, so I wrote my first horror tale titled ‘A night in the abandoned house.’”

Nguyễn Ngọc Ngạn was born in 1945 in Son Tay Province, which is now a part of Hanoi. The family migrated to Saigon in 1954. In 1978, Ngạn made the decision to emigrate abroad on a ship, eventually settling in Toronto in 1985.

[Top photo via Facebook user John Dinh Vuong Nguyen]

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