Write because you want to, not because you have to.
Benjamin Maio Mackay is a multi award-nominated performer who is a seasoned Adelaide Fringe artist and adventurer. Having been involved in a range of Fringe shows and projects over the last few years, Mackay will be returning to this year's Adelaide Fringe Festival with his solo show (Please) Validate Me, which he promises will be a comedy show that will be all about seeking YOUR (the audiences') approval!
In anticipation of their upcoming show as part of Adelaide Fringe, I was fortunate to conduct an e-interview with Mackay - have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, Benjamin? Benjamin: I'm a director, producer, comedian, actor, writer, musician, and a radio host. I've also worked on sound editing/design and a bunch of other things. I've worked in the arts for a million years and as a result of attempting to live on a creative income, I have had to wear many, many hats. Thankfully, I enjoy the vast array of arts things I do.
Tema: What about stand-up comedy attracted you to it? Benjamin: I see stand-up as another storytelling medium and at the end of the day, that's what all my arts jobs work towards. My stand-up is very narrative-driven, so it tells one overall story (not to say there aren't a few throw-away jokes). Stand-up is always about building tension and typically releasing that with a punchline. It's what I absolutely love about my routine - getting to toy with audiences that way (and occasionally not releasing that tension in the room).
Tema: How long have you been in the industry for and what has the experience been like so far? Benjamin: Forever! Literally as long as I can remember, I've been working in the arts. There's nothing else I can do or have the skills for, so thankfully this is panning out okay! My experience of the industry I don't think is particularly unique - it's tough, pretty cut-throat, very challenging and it's tiring more than anything else. Yet somehow, there's still a joy in it and I wouldn't do anything else. The funniest thing about the industry is reading the lies about myself on the internet, despite what you can google, I'm not worth 18 million dollars, more like $18 if we're being realistic.
Tema: So, let's talk a bit about your show Please Validate Me - how did the concept of the show come about? Benjamin: I knew I wanted to do a very honest solo show, say some things that could help others either feel seen or educate those who are more ignorant and that's what this show was born from.
Tema: What is the basic premise of Please Validate Me, without giving too much away? Benjamin: I talk about very honest stories that have shaped me throughout my life, including things about illness/pain and being queer. As depressing as the concept may sound, people have been laughing, which is a hopeful and positive sign!
Tema: How did you decide on what content / stories / experiences would qualify as prime material for the show? Benjamin: It's all narrative-driven, so I knew there were certain stories that had to be in there. There were other stories that were added gradually, as I was testing out the show's material to see what worked best and elicited the best reaction. It was a trial and error process.
Tema: Is this a solo show or will you be having a crew on-stage for the show? Benjamin: This is all Benjamin for all of 50 minutes!
Tema: Who would you say is your target audience for Please Validate Me? Benjamin: Ideally younger people (under 50), especially young queer people - but I've had an array of ages, who have seen the show in Perth and Hobart and people do seem to enjoy it regardless of age - they just take away different things.
Tema: What are you hoping for the show to offer to your audience? Benjamin: The show hopefully either makes people feel seen/included and they can relate to the stories or educates people on a few things.
Tema: How did you get involved with the Adelaide Fringe (AF)? Benjamin: I've been doing Adelaide Fringe for many years, I first got involved when looking for the best place to open new work in Australia.
Tema: If this is your first time participating at AF, what are you anticipating from your visit and show-run this year? Benjamin: I'm from Adelaide, so no visiting for me - I get to do a home run! I've actually been on tour for over a month and leave immediately after Adelaide Fringe closes, so I'm just excited to be playing my home city. I'm anticipating for the festival at a very busy time with a lot of work (I'm involved in 4 other projects in various capacities). With the show, I'm just anticipating getting to bring this work home to audiences who may know me better than those across Australia.
Tema: Where have you taken Please Validate Me within Australia / around the world and how has the experience of travelling with the show been so far? Benjamin: The show opened in Hobart and then played for three weeks in Perth. I love the show, but it is quite a draining work to do - it's been exhausting. Travelling/touring is quite a lonely endeavour, but I'm so happy audiences have been seeing the show and connecting with the material. I can't wait to show more audiences around the country/world this show.
Benjamin: What are some experiences that you are looking forward to, during your time here? Benjamin: I'm Australian and have been living in Perth for a month with the show. I have had a chance to do some more tourist-y things, like go to Adventure World! In Adelaide, I plan to work on all my shows and sleep - it's a 4 month tour without breaks!
Tema: What do you think makes Please Validate Me a must-watch show? Benjamin: It's an honest comedy show that deals with a range of truths, messages, jokes (and a song). It's got a little bit of everything, so it's something you can't miss (and who doesn't want to hear me talk about a little bit of trauma)?!
Tema: When you're not out performing on stage, what does a day in the life of Benjamin typically look like? Benjamin: When I'm not performing, I'm typically working on other projects, typically in other roles like directing or producing. I also do a lot of MC work - for public and corporate events. So I keep myself very busy! However, fun things I like include: beach walks, brunch, pasta, puppies, CSI (all of the franchises), Disney films, musical theatre, wine and spending time with those who matter.
(Please) Validate Me by Benjamin Maio Mackaywill be performed at the Mercure Grosvenor Hotel from March 10 - 14, 2020 and at the Z Wine Cellar Door in Barossa Valley on February 17, 2020, as part of Adelaide Fringe. Book your tix here.