‘I try my best to be a suave and poised guy, but I’m pretty good at mucking it up’: Ben Hunter debuts at Comedy Festival

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‘I try my best to be a suave and poised guy, but I’m pretty good at mucking it up’: Ben Hunter debuts at Comedy Festival

ben hunter
words by joshua jennings

Ben Hunter’s debut show, I Will Refund Your Ticket in 10 Years I Promise, touches on everything from aquarium visits to hypnotism.

Since Ben Hunter began performing comedy in 2021, a whole lot has happened, he says. Known for his awkward and off-beat brand of comedic delivery, Hunter is a RAW Comedy state finalist, a Comedy Zone 2023 cast member and a regular at Brisbane’s favourite comedy spots.

At this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, he’ll be performing his debut stand-up show, I Will Refund Your Ticket In 10 Years I Promise. Don’t be fooled though – between now and then, odds are he’ll be selling a lot more tickets than refunding them.

Ben Hunter – I Will Refund Your Ticket In 10 Years I Promise

  • March 28 to April 21 (except Wednesdays)
  • Trades Hall – Corner Store
  • Tickets are on sale now

Explore Melbourne’s latest arts and stage news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

You started performing comedy in 2021. What advice would you have about stand-up today, for 2021 you?

I honestly wouldn’t have much advice for me from three years ago. This whole thing has all happened really quickly, and I feel so grateful and fortunate to be in the position I’m in now – being able to put on my own show at MICF. 

I recently re-watched About Time with Domhnall Gleeson and that whole Butterfly effect thing really freaks me out. I’d probably just tell him to get a haircut and to stop buying V-Bucks for cosmetics in Fortnite. 

But who knows, maybe those tiny changes would’ve affected everything and I wouldn’t be doing comedy anymore because I got hit by a CityCat or something.

Hard to say.

How does your experience of awkwardness on stage compare with your experience of awkwardness off stage?

The on-stage awkwardness is a fragment of my life. I go on stage to give myself some time where no one else says anything, so every word coming from my mouth can be carefully pre-planned and all variables accounted for. My time on earth has been nothing but a torrential stream of relentless terrors caused by social ineptitude and lack of abilities. 

The other day, I was checking in at the airport, and I stood in the scanner and then stood next to the bloke and watched his iPad for the results, and when I passed, I whispered, “Yes!”, and pumped my fist. There’s no reason to be doing that kind of thing. I try my best to be a suave and poised guy, but I’m pretty good at mucking it up.

For a gig to be a good time for you, what has to happen?

For a gig to be a good time for me, I like to do all my jokes and the crowd to be laughing and laughing and laughing the whole time. I have a few little rituals and stuff I do though: always keep my wallet and keys in my pocket until I’m about to go up and then put them in my bag. 

I’ll do some visualisation; just picturing the crowd in the specific venue, how it looks, imagining everyone having a good time listening to me, enjoying my comedic stylings. Sometimes you get a free burger and a beer, which is awesome.


♬ original sound – ben hunter

I Will Refund Your Ticket in 10 Years, I Promise is about things including going to the aquarium and hypnotism. Do these experiences belong to a broader theme that ties the show together?  

Not particularly. Both those sections are about seeing a concept through my eyes and the maybe-kinda-zany way I see the world or interpret things. But there isn’t a huge narrative to the topics I’m talking about. My material is generally quite silly and aimless. I’m very aware of who I am demographically in the comedy sphere. I’m a straight, white, privately educated guy in my early 20s. 

I have very little in the way of adversity that lends itself to a perspective that is super unique, so until I feel like I have an angle or opinion that isn’t already talked about enough by people of my ilk – or is as interesting as people who have been through more than me – I like performing stuff that is funny purely for the sake of funny.

What can you say about your Comedy Festival show that festivalgoers wouldn’t yet be aware of?

There is at least one (1) member of the animal kingdom that makes an appearance during the show.

How influential has your experience in the Comedy Zone lineup (2023) been on your preparation for your show this year?

Comedy Zone was actually the sickest. Firstly, working with Alex, AJ, Annie and Sam every night was amazing, and they all became really good friends. 

Beyond that, being able to be in Melbourne for the whole festival, performing to crowds every night and being able to meet so many amazing performers who I look up to was an unreal experience. It showed me as well how much work doing a festival run is. 

Watching my friends and peers and how exhausting it can be to maintain the energy to perform at a high level for up to a month was very eye-opening. Noting their grind motivated me to make the most of this month purely focused on comedy, so I went to the Victoria State Library every day and wrote new material. 

Before I landed in Melbourne, I organised a WIP show in Brisbane (where I’m from) promising an hour of new jokes. By the end of the festival, I had a brand new hour, which was admittedly mostly terrible, but from it I found a solid chunk of gear that is now in this show. 

I wouldn’t be doing a MICF run this year if not for Comedy Zone.

To what extent does your retail job inspire comedic ideas?

Retail is weird, hey. I really zone out while I’m there. It pays the rent, ya know. I have basically no material about my job or kinda any jobs I’ve had. Since it can be so menial though, I find myself drifting off and coming up with silly little gags while there. 

I started standup while I was at uni and would always be writing during lectures because it was more appealing. But I struggle to write consistently the rest of my time, just because it’s more fun to play Xbox. So when I finished my degree and decided to take comedy more seriously and in turn worked more retail, work took over from uni as the time I’d write material, just because it was more fun than what I was meant/being paid to be doing.

You’ve been a runner-up in Good Chat’s Brat Pack competition and a Raw comedy state finalist. What impact has this had on your attitude towards your future in standup comedy?

Competitions like Brat Pack and Raw are really helpful. You see everyone else who’s in the same boat as you, and [it] helped me realise that I probably needed to find ways to stand out – ways to perform and things to write about that could set me apart.

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of 2024? 

Obviously the festivals. Melbourne is super exciting, but then being able to do Sydney’s and especially Brisbane’s comedy festivals is gonna be really special. 

I would love to be able to travel as much as possible and see more of the country. Also, the Brisbane Lions are gonna win the grand final, which will be hectic.

I Will Refund Your Ticket in 10 Years I Promise kicks off  on March 28. Get tickets here.