Entertaining Osprey chases comedic dream


When he’s not serving up the ethereal sustenance of the Jacksonville Beach hallmark Angie’s Subs, senior philosophy major Benjamin Wallis is searching out comedic stardom.

Wallis has written, directed and starred in Internet videos as part of the sketch comedy troupe, BabyGuys; does stand-up comedy; and was cast in commercials for Krystal’s and the Florida Lottery, among other multimedia ventures, he said.

“You know how some parents make their kids become doctors or lawyers? Well, my parents are making me become a comedian,” Wallis said.

Wallis has been interested in the funny biz for as long as he remembers and hopes to someday make a living out of making people laugh. “When I was growing up, my dad would watch [Saturday Night Live] with me. That’s actually my ultimate goal [to become an SNL cast member],” Wallis said.

Wallis listed current SNL cast member Andy Samberg, writers Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer — who collectively comprise the comedy troupe The Lonely Island — and comedian Demetri Martin as some of his influences. Though Wallis has been interested in comedy his whole life, he first began writing and performing skits near the end of his senior year in high school.

Wallis and Eric Dennis are the mainstays of BabyGuys, which has been around for a little over a year, Wallis said. Several of Wallis’ friends round out the performers in BabyGuys’ videos, including an appearance from local ambient rock virtuoso Jonathan Berlin of the Sunbears! (formerly of Bernard). BabyGuys has over 100 subscribers on YouTube and their most popular video — a shout-out to youth ministers called “Youth miniStarZ” — has registered more than 35,000 views.

“[YouTube] is a platform which we have a lot planned for in the next year or two, as we will be posting a lot more videos,” Wallis said. While the Internet provides a relatively cheap and efficient vehicle for joke-peddling practitioners, it isn’t exactly a problem-free panacea for aspiring comedians struggling to find an audience, he said.

“YouTube is great, and the Internet is responsible for getting a lot of people’s stuff out there, but it’s almost a win-lose proposition because there is so much out there that it fades into the white noise, ‘cause it’s over-saturated,” Wallis said.

Though Wallis may find the information superhighway to be an imperfect conduit for delivering his punchlines, he says there aren’t many other options for a would-be comedian in Jacksonville.

“There isn’t much to do in Jacksonville, not many strong clubs,” he said.

Wallis graduates from UNF in December and plans on actively chasing his dream — he has already secured the services of an agent.

You can check out Wallis’ work on YouTube or MySpace by searching for BabyGuys. Don’t hesitate to tell them what you really think.

“We love to hear feedback, as long as it’s positive and everybody loves it,” Wallis said.