Ben McKenzie (born in Sydney Australia on April 6, 1979), grew up in Ballina, Junee and Perth, and moved to Melbourne in 1997. These biographical details are included in the hope someone will use them to finally write Ben’s Wikipedia article (he’s the one labelled “actor”).
Acting and Presenting
Always an actor and public speaker, Ben’s theatrical acting credits include Arcadia (Eclipse Theatre), Turnstiler (La Mama), Twelfth Night (Blue Chair Theatreworks) and musicals The Taking of Ramsey Street, The Lobotomist (both theatre in decay) and The Terminativity (Bella Union). He wrote his own short play – essentially a piece of dark Goodies fanfic – titled A Record or an OBE, which toured for three seasons in Melbourne and Adelaide. He also wrote and performed sketch comedy with Melbourne-based troupe The Anarchists Guild Social Committee.
On the small screen, Ben has appeared in various short films including the Pi spoof M: Faith In Chocolate, comedy Star Wars fan film Suburban Knights Episode Two: Death Crush, and The Mortician’s Story. His television appearances include an appalled lefty in The Bazura Project and an affable warehouse manager in Woodley, both for the ABC. Ben has also presented and narrated numerous educational and training films for Video Education Australasia.
Ben laid down his comedy roots in the 1999 Melbourne University Comedy Revue, The Phantom Grimace, but it wasn’t until 2004 that he established Shaolin Punk, his own production company, and started writing and performing comedy on his own.
His solo career began with the “Man in the Lab Coat” comedy shows: part stand-up, part science lecture, they aim to show than even a “scientician” with no actual scientific qualifications can love and spread the word of science. The shows have charted the history and philosophy of science (Listen to the Man in the Lab Coat), explained evolution (Evolutionary: the Man in the Lab Coat Evolves) and sought to redress the misappropriation of science by the media and quackery (Science-ology). To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Stephen Hawking’s famous book, Ben summarised it in an hour in A Brief History of A Brief History of Time for National Science Week 2008, later managing the same feat in just 15 minutes for 2012′s The Peer Revue. He’s currently working on a new show about the problems faced by science communicators, tentatively titled The War on Science, and two more about being a geek in the twenty-first century (though even the working titles of those are top secret).
In 2008, Ben launched Museum Comedy, a continuing programme of events bringing comedy into museums and other institutions of learning. This has resulted in the Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour, which has run now for five years, and a handful of other events. Ben hopes to expand Museum Comedy in 2012.
A lifelong nerd, Ben was a writer and presenter for the hit Channel 31 variety show Planet Nerd, and gave in to his love of games to create two shows celebrating Dungeons & Dragons with Richard McKenzie: +1 Sword and Dungeon Crawl. Dungeon Crawl is now in its third year, and currently runs every month with a line-up of top Melbourne comedy and impro talent.
Ben is also a passionate feminist, evironmentalist and champion of science, things he finds outlet for as a regular performer with Political Asylum. Ben is also an experienced improviser; he was a long-term member of Melbourne-based improvised comedy troupe The Crew from 2006 until they disbanded in 2009, and has co-created several impro formats including Set List, Dungeon Crawl and McGuffin.
The Critics, They Say Nice Things
For The Peer Revue (2012):
‘Geek comedy’s patron saint … Erudite and charming, McKenzie is a bright orator. If there’s one thing I like more than laughing, it’s laughing WITH ADDED LEARNING!’ – Lisa Dib, T-Squat
‘hilarious … a ripper of a show’ - Jessica Barlow, The Pun
For Dungeon Crawl (2010-)
For A Record or an OBE (2007, 2008):
‘beautifully played with lots of skilful dialogue’ – Independent Weekly, Adelaide (February 2008)
For Science-ology (2007):
‘smart, funny and educational’ - The Age (April 2007)
The Piece of Paper, You Read It
You can download Ben’s current CV.