This is a brief post, but important. It's in honour of my first ever, proper, broadsheet newspaper review. And it's a corker...if stingy on the stars. "[Ben] successfully sticks it to The Man in a vibrant, educational and funny show" - now that's a quote.

"A spirited attempt to restore science to its rebellious status of "rock and roll"." - The Age, April 11, 2007

Just for the record, though: yes, I was uncool, geeky and bullied in primary school - Craig Wellington (of Wellington Who, which is awesome - go see it) had it easy when the kids called him Doctor, they called me "Doctor Who freak" and chased me across the playground, mockingly chanting the chorus from "Doctorin' the TARDIS". By the end of High School, however, I was totally cool. I'd starred in the most popular school play ever, won a bunch of Eisteddfod prizes for the school, and - as part of our farewell year 12 extravaganza - played my first rock gig with a student band, singing Spiderbait's "Old Man Sam" to a packed assembly hall. We rocked.

Oh yeah, and I'm going to be singing a song with 80s Enuff late this Friday night at Trades Hall. Be there!
Tenacious D, live at Festival Hall:

Jables (Jack Black), KG (Kyle Gass) and their Hellband comprising Colonel Sanders on drums, Charlie Chaplin on bass and the amazing Anti-Christ on lead electric wove songs from their original album and the new film soundtrack together into a cohesive, seamless narrative structure WHICH BLEW MY FUCKING MIND. - Ben McKenzie


Dec. 20th, 2006 12:04 am
barrington: (Bill Bailey)
Okay, now, I'm a pretty big fan of Spicks and Specks and Rockwiz both - they're very different shows - but I just watched the John Barrowman episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

It shat all over both Australian equivalents. (Though to be fair, Rockwiz is an original format as far as I'm aware, whereas S&S is consciously modelled after Buzzcocks in much the same way that Good News Week was modelled after Have I Got News For You.)

I need to either move to a country with proper television, or head to a studio with some biting wit, a posse of more-acerbic-than-cuddly comedians and a bucket of smut and dirty words, because that's what it takes to be truly entertaining. Each team got precisely four questions on NMTB and the rest was hilarious (and filthy) banter. And I loved every second. That Simon Anstell bloke - genius. (Don't worry Adam Hills and Alan Brough (who is surprisingly similar in many ways to his NMTB counterpart Phil Jupitus, except for his more family friendly S&S persona), you're a genius too, but unless S&S gets moved to ABC2 I doubt you'll ever be allowed to say fuck or make jokes about having sex with one of your male guests.)
What To See At The Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2006, by Benjamin McKenzie, aged 27 and two weeks.

My general tip, and I really mean this, is simple: see some local acts, not just people from overseas or from the telly. You will miss out if you don't, and so will some comedians who need your patronage, 'cause it's a harsh world out there in ComedyLand. Also, you don't get twice as many laughs for a $40 show as for a $20 one, and if you're reading this then you're not the sort of boring person who goes to see Wil Anderson because he's a "guaranteed laugh". One more thing: getting a flyer is only a waste of paper if you don't read it and don't recycle it. If the flyer person is nice to you, and the show sounds even vaguely interesting, take it and read it and dispose of it thoughtfully if you don't want to keep it. And ask them questions if you're interested; they might be paid to hand those flyers out, but unless they're a moron (and sadly there are probably a few) they have real opinions and will generally give you honest advice on what they've seen or heard about. (This last bit goes triple if the person giving you a flyer is me.)

But to the list. The shows worth seeing are (ones I've seen are in bold; don't be put off that there aren't lot of them, I know what I'm talking about):

Good, local shows you might not consider if not for my advice: Courteney Hocking's Foolish Ideas & Crackpot Inventions Show, Lawrence Leung in The Marvellous Misadventures of Puzzle Boy, Andrew McClelland's Mix Tape, The Renegades of Folk, Geraldine Hickey's One Week In Paradise, A Porthole into the Mind of the Vanquished

Shows which are good but which you may have thought of anyway: Justin Hamilton's Smash! (featuring the wonderful Bec Hill on warm up), Justin Kennedy's Beelzebuzz, The Kransky Sisters: Heard It On The Wireless, Mark Watson: 50 Years Before Death And The Awful Prospect Of Eternity, two thirds of The Lion, the Bitch and the Closet, Christina Adams: Alive In Madagascar

Shows which are going to do well whether you go or not, so feel free to scam cheap or free tickets to them: Daniel Kitson, Tim Minchin, Demetri Martin (Dr. Earnest Parrot Presents... or These Are Other Jokes)

...there are others. It's a big festival, and truthfully, most of the acts are good, even if they're not all going to be your cup of tea. I also have a list of shows which, if you see them, strike you from my list of people whose opinion on comedy I can trust. I will not reveal this list in a public forum, but feel free to guess who's on it.


Apr. 4th, 2006 04:53 pm
Evolutionary: The Man in the Lab Coat Evolved
Ben McKenzie

The erudite science communicator serving up their subject with passion and humour has a long and honourable lineage both in and out of the classroom, and Ben McKenzie, aka the Man in the Lab Coat, does not let the side down.

In his Adelaide Fringe show 'Evolutionary' downstairs in the Lizard Lounge on Hindley Street, this "amateur scientician" led us through the story of life on Earth, cramming billions of years, into an hour or so.

For him, it is the ultimate 'Survivor', where the winning contestants' kids get to come back for the next episode. He also takes us on excursions into the life of Charles Darwin and the follies of the Creationists in their many mutations.

With a minimum of props - the blackboard, lectern, Cheezels and lab coat - and a warm and spirited delivery, Ben entertained and educated without dumbing down a fascinating and complex subject. And as a bonus, we had a few laughs, and a few humbling insights, on the journey.

Bookmark his web site, and catch his next show if you get a chance. Maybe bring your class along.
Jonathan Goodfield

AEU Journal SA, Vol 38, No. 2, April 2006
There's a double meaning in that...

There are some (mostly) nice reviews of Evolutionary on the talkfringe web site, if you'd care to read them. A review will also be published in the magazine of the AEU's SA branch; apparently the reviewer enjoyed the show, so I'm looking forward to getting my copy in the mail. All this attention came too late to boost ticket sales but at least I can use it to fuel publicity for whatever I do next...

February 2012

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