Mary Kenneally

For over 40 years, Mary has made a profound contribution to the standing of women in the comedic arts.

Honour Roll

Throughout her career, Mary has mentored many women who have since become Australia's leading comedians and satirists. Her comedic journey has given a voice to women in the arts and made a significant impact on the early development of contemporary Australian comedy. Mary graduated from the University of Melbourne with an Honours degree in Pure English and a Bachelor of Laws. She began her law career in 1971. It was during this time that Mary and her fellow comedians formed the Razzle Dazzle Revue, performing in inner city venues around Melbourne such as Carlton's Pram Factory, Prahran's Reefer Cabaret, Fitzroy's Flying Trapeze Café and Collingwood's Last Laugh. These performances shaped a distinctive Australian comedic style that was revolutionary and transformative.

In 1979, with fellow performers, Mary opened the iconic Comedy Café Theatre Restaurant in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy— the first commercial performer-owned venue dedicated to the development of innovative Australian comedy. It was during this time that she pioneered a new form of comedy and, markedly, made it accessible to all Australians. Her fine comedic script writing and acting skills were further honed on the stage, on ABC radio, and on ABC TV education and current affairs programs. As half of the acclaimed comedy duo, Tim and Debbie, Mary escorted Melbourne comedy onto the television screen with the ground breaking, award winning ABC TV series, "Australia, You're Standing In It”.

In recognition of her indelible contribution to Australian comedy, in 2000, Mary was awarded the Kenneth Myer Medallion for her services to performing arts. Mary is also highly regarded as a cabaret singer and has produced and performed one woman shows such as ‘Lazy Crazy Love Songs' and ‘Witty Songs of Witty Women' at the Fairfax Theatre and Hamer Hall.

Mary is currently working with the Andrew Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation at the University of Melbourne on an Australian Research Council Linkage Project. Through this project, Mary is preserving the dynamic story of the development of Australian comedy across the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.