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A Bit of a Laugh

‘I was beginning to believe that waiting to get announced onto a comedy stage was the most excruciating wait imaginable. Sure, if you’re pulled aside at an Indonesian airport strapped with nine kilograms of cocaine the wait could be worse, but only a little. Here there could be somebody speaking on stage directly in front of you, yet you will have no comprehension of what they are saying. A 40-centimetre raised platform in the corner of a Richmond pub will suddenly feel like the concert stage at Rod Laver Arena down the road. I began to question why I was putting myself through this at all. Surely there were easier hobbies, like cliff diving or swimming with sharks…’

On the verge of his 40th birthday, school teacher Ben Tiffen fulfilled a lifelong ambition by performing stand-up comedy for the first time. Not content with easing into mid-life in a comfy pair of Ugg boots, Ben soon became hooked on this exhilarating and increasingly challenging artform.

A Bit of a Laugh is an intimate memoir that begins with Ben’s nervous debut in a pub on a Wednesday night and follows his journey into Melbourne’s huge and diverse amateur comedy scene. Along the way, he meets many fascinating and hilarious people, and faces a series of personal challenges that only the world of stand-up comedy can present.

He also carries a box of fake laxatives across the Pacific Ocean for a punchline.

Ben learns many lessons about comedic art and the value comedians can add to our lives, as well as the importance of facing our fears and stepping outside of our comfort zones. He gains wisdom from some of Australia’s most well-known comedians, and finds himself under the spotlight on stages he never would have anticipated.


Ben Tiffen has been a secondary English teacher since 2005, and of all the challenges in teaching English, the one he most enjoys is helping young people to tell their own story and find their own voice. He delights in watching his students’ literacy and self-confidence grow, and strongly believes that everyone has an interesting story to tell. There was never any doubt that Ben would one day write a memoir himself.

Born in Melbourne in 1973, Ben grew up loving drama, reading, writing, stand-up comedy and Aussie Rules football. He attended the first Montessori primary school in Victoria and developed a keen interest in creative arts, and later educational theory. He also attended Melbourne High School, however he didn’t finish there, as when his family moved from Elsternwick
to Mount Waverley, he wanted to change schools to meet new, local friends. To this day he remains the only student in history to transfer from Melbourne High to Syndal Tech. It was a move he has never regretted.

Today, Ben most enjoys spending quality time with his family and friends. He likes traveling to exciting destinations when time, money and pandemics allow for it, and he continues to perform stand-up. This is his first book.