As if young Adelaide entrepreneur, Benjamin Maio Mackay, isn’t busy enough during various Fringes and throughout the year, for this year’s Fringe he has involved himself one way or another in 6 (count them, 6) shows – either performing, directing, producing, or all three.
To help him out, especially with this interview, he has inducted performers Laura Desmond and Andrew Silverwood. I managed to seat them all on the same couch at the same time and have a chat.
Benjamin Maio Mackay
B.G: Tell us about your show (Please) Validate Me
B.M.M: (Please) Validate Me is a collection of actual stories and encounters I’ve had in the past few years that have helped shaped me. Some stories are funny, some are depressing, people seem to either cry or laugh – so something’s working!
The actual blurb for the show is: A comedy show seeking your approval. Multi-award nominated, 5 star performer Benjamin Maio Mackay has been through some sh*t. Now he’s got some stories to tell, hopefully they’ll make you laugh (or maybe even cry). Either way please come make him feel better about his otherwise meaningless existence.
B.G: Is there a reason that ‘Please’ is in brackets?
B.M.M: It was more a design/style choice than anything else. Though I guess it helps to emphasise the timidness of the request for validation – don’t want to just demand it from people.
B.G: Is this your first comedy gig?
B.M.M: It isn’t actually, I’ve been doing comedy for quite a long time – primarily theatrical comedy and duo comedy work (dating back almost 10 years), but I’ve been doing solo stand up for a couple of years now. I do a lot of spots around Adelaide and Australia and worked a lot last Fringe doing stand up. I also incorporate stand up into the hosting and corporate work I do nation wide. This is certainly the most honest my stand up’s ever been though.
B.G: Has the show toured anywhere else? If so, where and what was the reaction like?
B.M.M: I opened the show in Hobart before heading up to Perth – so I’ve done 18 shows at this point and it’s been received really well. Lovely reviews, lovely audience feedback and I even had someone come up to me a week after they saw the show and tell me how much it affected them. It’s been very gratifying – because it’s not the easiest show to perform. Post shows in Adelaide and the Barossa for Fringe it’s heading to Wellington, Melbourne and Canberra too – so this show is getting around!
B.G: You are also appearing with Laura Desmond in Disney Delights. Tell
us a little about this show and what audiences should expect.
B.M.M: This is a real passion project for us both. Audiences can expect about 50 minutes worth of Disney music favourites – ranging from Jungle Book to Frozen to Nightmare Before Christmas and even High School Musical. This one’s a show that everyone young and old can enjoy – as long as you love Disney as much as we do.
B.G: Is there anything else that you think is relevant and that I might have missed out?
B.M.M: Well, I’m also producing Andrew Silverwood: Call Me Janice and Andrew Silverwood’s [Late Night] Panel Show, so check both of those out. I’ll be appearing as a guest comedian on [Late Night] every weekend except Clipsal, so come check that out – there are some incredible other guests too. I’m also co-producing and directing Dr Selflove, which Laura discusses below so definitely come and see that too. It’s going to be a huge Fringe, so I can’t wait for audiences to see what we’ve been working on.
B.G: Could you tell us a little about yourself? In particular, your career in performing.
L.D: I started learning music when I was in primary school which I continued until the end of high school. When I first started I hated performing in recitals and I never felt like I was good enough on my instruments (piano and flute) but by the time I was in high school, I was picking up every opportunity to play, sing and compere for band tours around the state.
In my final year of high school I picked up drama and took to it like a bird to water. After moving to Adelaide, I worked with friends on Fringe shows they had written and I realised how easy it could be to get involved.
I began writing my own work in 2017 after working a season at Gluttony. Within six months, I had my first written work and a full season at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
B.G: Can you tell us about the show Dr Selflove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Thighs?
L.D: Dr Selflove is a storytelling piece which looks at the way comments from others can shape our perceptions of self. I’m trying to understand how I have become the person I am today, and clarify the moments which caused shifts within myself. Like many young people, I spent so much of my time worrying what others might have thought of me and changing my behaviours and the way I presented myself to try to fit in. It took a long time for me to realise that ‘fitting in’ isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world.
B.G: Where did this intriguing title come from?
L.D: I was actually in London at the time, having a drink with a creative friend at a pub somewhere. I’d had the idea for the show bouncing around in my head for a few weeks and I was just starting to talk it out with my friend. He went inside to get another round and the Kubrick title popped into my head and instantly morphed into Selflove and ‘Love My Thighs’. I immediately blurted it out to my friend and his first reaction was to laugh, so I knew I had it.
B.G: Tell us a little about Disney Delights. It sounds totally at the opposite end of thespectrum to Dr Selflove.
L.D: Disney Delights is something very different from my solo Fringe career, but I have spent years singing in choirs, including with Gospolation in 2017, so it’s not too far away from my roots. I grew up watching and listening to Disney films, so it seems really fitting that this is my first musical Fringe duet piece. I really hope the audiences can feel our excitement and our energy and ideally will sing along with us! There is a great joy which comes from singing in groups, and I hope we can translate that in Disney Delights.
B.G: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
L.D: In addition to Dr Selflove and Disney Delights, I will also be premiering my brand new work Peach Cobbler – an immersive experience which explores the conversations had behind closed doors.
B.G: Tell us a little about yourself. In particular, your career in performing.
A.S: I have the dream job I’ve wanted since I was little. Get drunk and tell Sex and drugs stories in front of a different group of strangers every night. It’s what every little boy dreams of.
I’ve been pretty lucky to play to audiences in eight different countries over the last eight years, including gigs on the roof of the Swedish House of Culture in Stockholm, Soho Theatre in London and numerous runs at the Edinburgh Fringe.
No one likes a show off, so follow me on Instagram (@AndrewSilverwood) to read more about my good reviews, awards and all the times people say nice stuff about me.
B.G: Tell us about Call Me Janice and why that title?
A.S: My mum’s name is Janice. This show is not about her. It’s about another Janice who’s real name wasn’t Janice.
But the show is also about the dodgy water at Disneyland, the first time I met a man eating koala and the reason they don’t let me do kids shows.
B.G: You’re a U.K. performer. Is this your first time in Adelaide?
A.S: Nope it’s my fifth. Glam Adelaide interviewed me two years ago. I guess I need to up my memorability. Don’t worry. This show is memorable.
B.G: Could you tell us about your other Fringe show, [Late Night] Panel Show?
A.S: I’ve had the late slot for weekends for Gluttony every year since 2017. Things get rowdy!
The panel show is a show all about me, hosted by me, all about how I never got given my own BBC panel show. So if you know any friends at ABC, Netflix, NBC etc, bring them down.
Oh and I should mention that this year we’ve booked some of the best comedians and celebrities of the Fringe and beyond. Like, actual famous people in a 45 seat tent, for as little as $20.
B.G: Is there anything else you might like to add?
A.S: My mum is coming to visit Adelaide this year so please don’t vandalise my posters with sharpie dicks and please come to my shows so she can boast to that bitch from down the road that I have a real job and I am successful.
Interview by Brian Godfrey
More information and bookings for each of the shows mentioned in the interview can be found by clicking on these links:-
Disney Delights: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/disney-delights-af2020
Peach Cobbler: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/peach-cobbler-af2020
Andrew Silverwood: Call Me Janice: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/andrew-silverwood-call-me-janice-af2020
(Late Night) Panel Show: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/andrew-silverwood-s-late-night-panel-show-af2020