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Ben Boyce’s best role yet

Under-fire Kiwi comedian Ben Boyce talks about the love that’s helped him through a tough year.

For a man who shines in the limelight, Ben Boyce also has a serious side. The tattooed funnyman, who once covered Hamish McKay’s car in post-it notes and tried to smuggle beer into Eden Park on the laddish comedy show Pulp Sport, is more than happy to put comedy aside and focus on the important things in life.

Off screen, the 33-year-old is a devoted husband to Amanda and father to Sienna (2) and eight-week-old Indie. With a new baby, new TV show, new house and a dashing new haircut, 2011 certainly saw some high points for the Wanna-Ben star.

However, the year was also marked by a few challenges, most notably when Ben was arrested after a skit at Auckland Airport went wrong.

Sitting in the lounge of his Auckland home surrounded by a sea of Dora the Explorer toys, Ben entertains Sienna while changing Indie’s nappy with a quick flick of the hand. Clearly well adapted to life as a father of two, he says it’s family that keeps him grounded.

“I’m really enjoying [fatherhood], especially with Sienna now being two, because in the first couple of years it’s all about Mum,” says Ben. “We’ve sort of paired off. Sienna’s kind of my baby and Indie is Amanda’s. When there’s crying we’ll go, ‘Is that your baby or mine?’”

Sienna already shows signs of taking after her father’s showman side, lighting up in front of the Weekly’s camera. “Sienna takes after my chatterbox-ness but she’s quite the entertainer,” says Amanda (34), who married Ben in Fiji in 2008. “Sienna is really social and will play her music to people and loves the camera. She’s her Daddy’s girl,” she says.

Ben keeps his family close to his heart, quite literally, with tattoos of Indie’s footprint and Sienna’s handprint on his arm and shoulder. “When Amanda saw the Indie tattoo she said, ‘That’s so cute,’ and the tattoo artist was like ‘that’s cute’. I was like, ‘I’m not sure I want tattoos that are cute.’ What credibility I had left is gone,” laughs Ben.

Amanda and Ben met in 2000 while both were employed at The Radio Network, and the pair still work together. Amanda manages Ben’s production company, Yoink, while Ben writes, produces, edits and stars in Wanna-Ben.

Amanda says Ben has changed a lot since they first met. “When I met Ben he had just moved up from the Wairarapa. He was very shy around me,” says Auckland-born Amanda. “We’ve had our ups and downs with work and it builds character and makes him stronger, but he sometimes still has the same mental age as Sienna, which makes planning fun!”

The pair went through a stressful time when Ben hit the headlines in September last year after being arrested with four Wanna-Ben crew members for breaching the Civil Aviation Act. The arrests were made after one of the crew, Bryce Casey, attempted to impersonate a pilot at Auckland Airport, in a skit that went horribly wrong.

“I was making a comedy show but suddenly nothing was funny anymore,” says Ben of the incident, which caused a national security threat during the Rugby World Cup. Ben says the skit was intended to be light-hearted but he deeply regrets not putting more thought into the consequences of his actions.

“In hindsight, it was a foolish decision to go to the airport. If only we had thought it through a bit more,” says Ben. The arrest came at a challenging time for Amanda, who was going through a difficult pregnancy with Indie. “With Sienna, I had no morning sickness and I loved being pregnant – it was the best experience of my life,” says Amanda.

“But with Indie, I was so exhausted, especially running around after

an active two-year old. It was really different, I had a lot more aches and pains earlier in the pregnancy.”

Amanda has witnessed many of her husband’s hijinks during his 10-year career, but she says she also lives with another side of Ben. “People expect the TV character, but it’s not as though he’s going to drop his pants and jump into the water when we’re out for dinner. He’s the most dedicated, hard-working person I’ve met. Wanna-Ben is like his third child.”

Ben’s been putting in long hours into the second series of the TV3 show, interviewing stars such as Henry Winkler, Kendra Wilkinson and Bret Michaels. “It makes me more determined at work because if things don’t go well, then it’s not so good for the family,” says Ben.

Since cutting off his trademark dreadlocks last year, Ben looks less mad and more Mad Men, but he hasn’t let fatherhood curb his fun-loving side. “I love it, but I still go out and have fun with the lads every now and then,” says Ben.

“He’s grown up since having children and takes a lot more responsibility,” adds Amanda. And although the upcoming court case “hangs over them”, Amanda says she loves her life with Ben. “It’s such a beautiful time, watching your daughters grow up.”

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