Museum Comedy does what it says on the tin.
Whether it’s after hours tours of popular museums, a guided trip round a special exhibition or lunchtime lectures, Museum Comedy brings top local and international comedians into museums and other institutions of learning to put the smart in smartarse.
Museum Comedy is the brainchild of Shaolin Punk, a small theatre and comedy production company founded by Ben McKenzie. In 2010 our Comedy Festival shows were co-produced by Janet McLeod of Local Laughs fame.
The first tourists joined Ben McKenzie and his initial team of intensely interesting comedians – including Sue-Ann Post, Tommy Dean, Kent Valentine and Bec Hill – in 2008 for an evening of science, history and laughter wandering the spooky silent halls of Melbourne Museum after closing time.
Tourists met such amazing inmates as CSIRAC, a room-sized computer which couldn’t beat your mobile phone at chess, and Amargasaurus, the vegetarian dinosaur with a mohawk who pre-dated punk and the straight edge movement by 120 million years.
The first season of the Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour ran for six sessions during the 2008 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Ben McKenzie returned to Melbourne Museum in 2009 for more laughter, science and natural history, joined by Melbourne comedy scene stalwart, trivia queen and State Library tour veteran Janet A. McLeod, and comedian, entomologist and host of ABC1′s Collectors program Andy Muirhead. The Museum was the same, but the Science and Life gallery had been redesigned and the jokes were all new!
The 2009 Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour ran at 6 PM, Thursday to Saturday, on April 16-18 and 23-25 2009.
In 2010, Ben took a break, letting returning guides Andy Muirhead and Kent Valentine plus new international guests DeAnne Smith (Canada) and Alexis Dubus (UK) lead punters through the once again revamped Scicence and Life gallery. We also produced Melbourne Museum Lunchtime Comedy, a Saturday lunchtime series of short comedy lectures about all manner of science and history topics, hosted by Ben McKenzie from such luminaries as Rod Quantock, Dave Callan and Hannah Gadsby.
The 2010 tour expanded to three weeks, running Thursday to Saturday from April 1 to 17, 2010; Lunchtime Comedy ran on the Saturdays during that period.
Later that year, we were invited to Sydney to take a comedy tour through the Mythic Creatures Exhibit. For one night only on Saturday, May 8 2010, a crowd of kraken lovers and mermaid watchers joined Ben McKenzie, Dave Bloustien and Amanda Buckley for an irreverent look at creatures from the mythologies of the world.
In 2011, we returned to Melbourne Museum for seven tours over two weeks from April 13 to 23, and included the new Victoria Evolves exhibit in the Science and Life Gallery, and our first foray further afield into the Children’s Gallery. Our Tour Guides were Ben McKenzie, Kate McLennan (in the guise of six-year-old Sammy Simpkins), Stella Young, Amanda Buckley and Danny McGinlay. Now in its fourth year, the comedy tour was as popular as ever, nearly selling out the entire run.
The 2011 tour returned to two weeks (partially to avoid the opening of the visiting Tutenkamun exhibition), and remained in the 6 PM timeslot, but for the first time included Wednesday nights – which proved to be the most popular!
In 2012, we’re doing things a little differently, with comic actors Dave Lamb and Petra Elliott joining Ben McKenzie for a new format. Same museum time, same museum…museum – but a whole new comedy tour experience. We hope you’ll join us!
‘a winning mix of fact and funny’ – Chortle (UK), 2008
’9/10, ‘an informative and often hilarious tour … not to be missed!’ – The Funny Tonne (Barb), 2008
‘a wonderful way to see the institution … greatly entertaining’ – The Groggy Squirrel, 2008
‘we laughed and laughed and we learnt some useful things as well’ – Beat, 2010